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Vanguard Producer Wants Second Chance for First Impression

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the try-try-again dept.

Role Playing (Games) 67

Allakhazam is featuring an interview with Vanguard producer Thom Terrazas where he addresses some of the early issues that made Vanguard so slow out of the gates. "Performance; Optimization; High System Requirements. Everyone may have a different name for it but at the end of the day, optimization challenges were the biggest hurdle faced at launch. We lost too many customers at launch due to the inability to run the game smoothly and we have been making huge improvements in this area in every update since. I can speak to this first hand actually: When I started playing at launch, I experienced some horrible "hitching" while moving from one area to another on what I consider an average gamers' computer. When I began to play more extensively a couple months later, I noticed some considerable improvements to my frame rate. Today, it is night and day superior than it was at launch. Optimizing the game has been one of our top priorities and in the last six months, we have made some considerable strides in improving the player's experience. If you haven't logged in recently or if you gave us a look in the beginning and haven't been back since, check it out now - I'll even flag your account for free for a period of time if you want to go in and prove me wrong."

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67 comments

In other Sony Online Entertainment news... (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#23494308)

A company spokesperson is also promising fixes for the multitude of problems in "Star Wars Galaxies" that have plagued the MMORPG for the last five years. "This time you can trust us," said SOE director Constance Phuckup, citing the company's extensive experience in dealing with glitchey, poorly implmented, unbalanced MMORPG's.

Re:In other Sony Online Entertainment news... (1)

Delwin (599872) | more than 5 years ago | (#23494426)

Actually given that they've got a new Lead Programmer who's quite hellbent on making the game what it should have been in the first place I don't doubt it's night and day. After all Brad isn't stuffing all the venture capital up his nose this time.

Re:In other Sony Online Entertainment news... (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#23498524)

Oh? They are removing teleports, revamping combat to the old Beta2 system, adding in functional and required boats, removing the broker restoring regional economies, turning night dark again, adding helmets, returning Equipment Expertise, restoring the Dreadknight to the AE role it was originally designed, adding more and diverse dungeons, trade caravans, player cities ... I could go on for ages.

Re:In other Sony Online Entertainment news... (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#23494434)

A company spokesperson is also promising fixes for the multitude of problems in "Star Wars Galaxies" that have plagued the MMORPG for the last five years.

"This time we have based it on REAL battles that ACTUALLY HAPPENED in a long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away." said the spokeman. He then went on to show us some of the realistic features like:

- Real time weapon change
- Giant space crabs
- The ability to "hit the weak point" for what the spokesperson termed: "Massive Damage"

When Sony's executive staff was queried on the supposed realism of these changes, Kaz Harai went on record as asking, "Have you seen Ridge Racer yet? "RIIIIIIIDDDDGGGGEEEE RACERRRRRRRRR!!!"

(Sorry, couldn't resist! :-P)

Re:In other Sony Online Entertainment news... (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 5 years ago | (#23555503)

"When asked why does someone need to search for a 'weak point' while using a lightsaber, he shouted, 'Hey! Look at that spider on the wall!' and when the reporters turned back to look at him, he was gone."

Re:In other Sony Online Entertainment news... (1)

brouski (827510) | more than 5 years ago | (#23494578)

...said SOE director Constance Phuckup.
I laughed.

Re:In other Sony Online Entertainment news... (1)

azzuth (1177007) | more than 5 years ago | (#23496016)

...said SOE director Constance Phuckup.
I laughed.
I cried.

Re:In other Sony Online Entertainment news... (1)

cvas (150274) | more than 5 years ago | (#23497686)

...said SOE director Constance Phuckup.
I laughed.
I cried.
I kissed my karma goodbye?

Re:In other Sony Online Entertainment news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23504800)

I pooped.

Re:In other Sony Online Entertainment news... (1)

GeekDork (194851) | more than 5 years ago | (#23495090)

To quote the slashtot tagline I see under the comments right now (omitting the typewriter-markup):

"At least they're EXPERIENCED incompetents"

Re:In other Sony Online Entertainment news... (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 5 years ago | (#23499308)

A company spokesperson is also promising fixes for the multitude of problems in "Star Wars Galaxies" that have plagued the MMORPG for the last five years
Most of those technical problems were fixed in SWG, the game was stable and a solid 250k playerbase. The biggest problem was the game design limited it to a niche Roleplayer audience, so they broke the game completely with NGE so it had more mass market appeal.

Re:In other Sony Online Entertainment news... (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503720)

That one backfired. If you believe the data on http://www.mmogchart.com/Chart2.html [mmogchart.com], SWG is down to about 100k subscribers. According to the same chart, EVE Online (which is also not for everyone) is approaching the 250k from below, after 5 years of steady growth.

So a well designed niche game can be a better success than a would-be mass market title :-)

Re:In other Sony Online Entertainment news... (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 5 years ago | (#23555563)

I rather liked Eve Online. The only problem was after I had finally gotten my first battle cruiser (or maybe heavy bc, IDR), I got it destroyed in a L2 mission because a swarm of gnats caused the screen to slow to about 1 frame per 5s. That's assured death in a clicky game. I couldn't even activate warp out before I was blown up.

Lesson learned (2, Insightful)

nikanj (799034) | more than 5 years ago | (#23494454)

Next time, optimize first, release second.

Re:Lesson learned (2, Interesting)

subsoniq (652203) | more than 5 years ago | (#23494588)

I think game companies are finally starting to figure this out (where MMO's are concerned). I was in the AoC open beta and had a lot of problems with the beta client (debugging code was compiled in and turned on), but I've heard from the early access people that the RTM client was smooth as silk, a huge improvement over the different beta clients and actually playable on machines 1-2 years old. And of course Mythic pushed back the release of Warhammer Online, which hopefully means they'll get it straight for a smooth launch.

Re:Lesson learned (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#23495176)

It surprises me that games developers wouldn't know that. I think that it's been standard practice in the OS world for a long time. Every time I update to current before the next branch happens on freebsd, there's always a note to people that think that current is slow. Largely because all the debugging code is still active by default and none of the compiler optimization flags are being used. I'm pretty sure that Windows is the same way, and I'd be shocked if the Linux kernel isn't as well.

It's just not particularly helpful to conduct a beta without having the debugging symbols compiled in. You'd be pretty much limited to finding balance issues, UI problems and general fun. None of which really matter if the game is regularly crashing.

Re:Lesson learned (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 5 years ago | (#23501146)

If your MMO has serious performance problems in the CLIENT you have so seriously screwed up there is little hope for you. You should be able to get the client right without a beta. Getting the SERVER right is what the beta is for (so you can get real loads and findout what breaks down in your server code under that stress, and also gauge how much launch hardware you need).

At least, that's how we did it for Diablo II / WOW.

Re:Lesson learned (2, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#23495548)

Well it's also finally come around that there are companies who have done it before...Both Mythic(DAoC) and Funcom(AO) have prior experience with long-running MMOs.

Easier said than done (1)

Brain-Fu (1274756) | more than 5 years ago | (#23494742)

Often you don't know where the problems will be until you put it under load.

Techniques exist to simulate load, of course. And there is always open beta testing. However, they still only give you an approximation of where the problems are and what their scope is, and the time you invest in these activities is not billable.

The money for a game has to come from somewhere. It is a huge upfront investment, with little more than crystal-ball-gazing to determine the ROI. Every dollar you invest in pre-release-optimization is a dollar that you are potentially investing in a game that won't pull much income (or in fixing problems that don't turn out to be the big ones when released).

Re:Easier said than done (4, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | more than 5 years ago | (#23494902)

Often you don't know where the problems will be until you put it under load.
That wasn't Vanguard's problem: the problem was that the content was barely half-complete at launch, with much of the content for one of the three islands simply missing.

The game at launch was actually great fun up to the teen levels, but then I pretty much hit a brick wall in terms of power relative to the mobs in the game, and the lack of content in the island I started on made progression difficult, to say the least.

The game should have been developed for at least another six months before release; sure, it would have cost SoE more money, but in the long run they'd have far more players than they do today.

I did actually give it a try in the 'free month' they gave to old players last year, but I didn't see much difference and they'd merged servers and renamed most of my characters, so that left me with little incentive to resubscribe.

Game Update 5 (4, Informative)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 5 years ago | (#23497564)

I type this while harvesting on my 50 ranger/45 carpenter in vanguard.

Game Update 5 is due soon and I have played around with it on the test server - it delivers a fairly large burst of optimizations and visual improvements. The games original problem is one man essentially: Brad McQuaid doesn't know how to manage his way out of a wet paper bag.

They have been working toward a relaunch since the moment Sony bought out Sigil and thus far have done a good job.

Anyone who liked the game but got driven away by bugs and performance issues should come around once Game Update 5 or Game Update 6 are pushed

Re:Lesson learned (2, Informative)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 5 years ago | (#23495932)

I don't think it was necessarily their fault this time around. I believe I remember Brad saying that, at the time, they were forced to release or abandon because of venture capitalists. So, they released the game with hopes that they could 1) fix the performance issues (which turned from a problem to a major problem after 250k people hit their servers all at once) and 2) Hopefully add the higher level content as people got higher level.

As is the case with so many MMO's these days, people played obsessively, hit level 50 in less than 2 weeks (which ended up not being so hard seeing that the high level game wasn't properly tweaked) and bad mouthing the game for having no high level game play. 3 months after release, a large chunk of the issues with the game were fixed. The Shaman were still screwed, their vision was changed at least 3 times after release, but most other classes (I believe one of the stealth classes was still majorly screwed) were complete, just not balanced.

The problem with these games is that there's just so much that goes into them. Investors want a WoW cash cow overnight and it's just not feasable. It's like writing a new revision of D&D, working the kinks out, then having to write code for it and work all the kinks out of it. While (personally) I think WoW stinks and is pretty much the arcade shooter of MMO's (..."back in my day we walked 4 hours to find our corpse, uphill, blindfolded, fallen beneath the world, with no food or water..."...), Blizzard did a few things right that most companies forget about. If you want a million gamers to play your game, make sure there's a million gamers who can play your game, that want to play your game, without having to upgrade their computer. Not only does it make creating the game easier, it makes optimizing it easier and gives you less problems in the long run.

Anyway, long story short, give Vanguard another chance (or a first chance). Even in the early days, it was a well envisioned MMORPG. It's personally the first MMORPG that's really captured my attention since Everquest (and to a smaller degree DAoC).

Open Week (4, Interesting)

everphilski (877346) | more than 5 years ago | (#23494494)

Run an open week. I don't want to have to go out and purchase the game to "prove you wrong." I played the beta and was active in several forums, I was really hoping this was the game that could put my EverQuest addiction to rest. But sadly it was not. I still play EverQuest a few nights a week, and I'd like to move on but I haven't found a MMO that satisfies.

Vanguard made lots of promises but never really fulfilled them, and it's sad because on paper it really looked like a great game. Maybe they do now, but if you really want to prove it, have an open week where people can download the client and play for free, like an open beta. Yeah, there's a few logistical issues to work out but I'm sure Sony can take the load if prepared (I'm not being sarcastic...). If you want to bring us in, give us something to chew on. Everquest still gives out free month trials... the Trial of the Isle, which is essentially a month playing with the first three expansions on designated servers. The whole game, uncrippled. Something like that might help you prove your point.

Re:Open Week (3, Interesting)

lewp (95638) | more than 5 years ago | (#23494726)

I think any game that wants to be a competitive MMO nowadays needs to have some kind of free trial that doesn't involve shelling out for the game box first. The whole "first month free" is nice, but not if I have to actually buy the game to get it.

With other games you can check reviews and get a fairly clear picture of what's going on. MMOs aren't so easy because a) they take a lot more time to fully get into than a reviewer is likely to spend with the game and b) they're constantly changing. You need to let people get their feet wet with the game before expecting them to pay up.

Re:Open Week (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 5 years ago | (#23494996)

I agree and in fact have been visiting old games based on their 14-day trial policy.

The sticker on AoC reads $50 around here. That's $100 if I pick up one for the wife. If either of us isn't satisfied with the experience, that's $100 wasted...

Re:Open Week (2, Insightful)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 5 years ago | (#23495994)

That's what open betas have been used for, for years now. A bit of cross-marketing with FilePlanet (subscribe to our site and get into beta 'free'!) and everyone but the player wins.

Besides that, there are a couple of reasons why you're not likely to see downloadable demos for live MMOs:
First off, they want to move as many boxes as they can. That initial $50 outlay, when you take into account the tens of thousands of fanboys hoping to grab prime virtual land, loot or names, goes a long, long way to paying off development costs or server leases. That $50 also lets the ol' Sunk Costs fallacy come out to play. You can't return the game, so you're more likely to play the whole month, so you're more likely to climb over the learning curve and UI/AI quirks.
Second, when you start offering free trials of the live game, the gold farmers really start to come out of the woodwork. Between rotating IPs, MAC spoofing and proxies, nothing will block them for long. If you let them in with the rest of the players, your in-game economy is fucked from the very beginning. Free trials tend to manifest when the player-base has stabilized, or when the publisher's absolutely desperate for players, and the risk of disruptive farmers becomes tolerable or necessary.

Korean-style MMOs are a different matter, because they operate on a totally different sort of revenue model. Most of them are dedicated to coaxing real money out of the player for in-game items, and the actual in-game currency allows for little more than subsistence.

Re:Open Week (1)

MeanderingMind (884641) | more than 5 years ago | (#23496688)

I believe both EVE and WoW have free trials. In WoW's case you only have to purchase the game if you want to keep playing after the trial.

Re:Open Week (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503572)

EVE has a low-cost purchase option too:
Something like $20 for the game including first month of play (I'm too lazy to find out the exact price now). That means you pay only a few dollars on top of the subscription price for that month.
Of course EVE has the advantage of lower distribution costs. You download the client, you don't buy a box that has to be shipped and takes up space in a shop.

Vanguard Trial (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 5 years ago | (#23497594)

They're working on one as they fix bugs and perform optimization - it will probably be out before xmas and i believe when Trial Island is available (and will have the tutorial, etc) it will be when they relaunch.. but i would have to dig in the forums to find quotes.

Re:Open Week (3, Interesting)

MrBandersnatch (544818) | more than 5 years ago | (#23494890)

Sadly, Vanguard is dead and has been running on life support since a few weeks after launch. Due to the low subscriber base I strongly doubt it will EVER see an expansion, which would be the only way it can ever hope to GROW its subscriber base! But maybe it would have been worth going back except......

Age of Conan! Its actually GOOD and has delivered on many of the promises Vanguard was making. I'm not saying there aren't problems (only a few of which are major) but I've not had this much fun in an MMO since EQ.

Vanguard Expansion (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 5 years ago | (#23497656)

Silius (lead dev) has long said that vanguard pays for itself and they have said they would like to do and expansion -

and it's not nearly dead - there are more than 94 people in the crafters channel alone at 4pm central and more than 200 (it won't let you see passed that) in regionsay on my server - this is at a non-peak time

Re:Open Week (3, Interesting)

GeekDork (194851) | more than 5 years ago | (#23495016)

The issue with segregated trials is that you will experience a vastly different community than on real live servers. For example, when I was still playing DAoC, a magazine for the mentally less endowed (no other way to say it more politely) had a trial offer. You could pretty much see the average intelligence drop to negative in the starting areas in the weeks after that. If I had started during that time, I'd have paid to make it stop.

Giving trial players too much influence on the live environment without paying for it on the other hand will make a lot of Chinese extremely happy.

All in all, it's a no-win situation. My idea would be something like a 2 or 3-week trial for a small amount of money, say, 5-7$, which is pretty affordable. People throw away a lot more money on trash food and bad movies on a daily basis. SOE also seems to be working on a new/alternative starting area, which could also be (ab)used as a trial area.

From the view of a returned player who played shortly after release, and then stopped for 10 months, I can say that the game has really improved a lot performance-wise, and has a rather mature and friendly community. Apart from that it's a perfectly normal MMO, with long-standing bugs that still need to be fixed since beta, class rebalancing with each update, surprise features, etc.

Re:Open Week (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 5 years ago | (#23495316)

In EQ's case, the trials throw you onto a low population server of their choice, not the server of your choice. IE, to prevent abuse by people who just want multiple accounts on a certain server. You most definitely had a core constituency of players who were not trial players.

(I did this once to try and get my wife into the game... and other random friends)

Re:Open Week (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23498144)

There is no way in hell I'm going to pay for a game with such a bad reputation without first demoing it. Sure, the community might not be so good at the starting areas, but that's not what's is going to make me stay or leave the game. The only thing they are probing not giving a trial is that not even they believe that their game is fun enough to make people stay. Even WoW has a trial version.

Re:Open Week (1)

DerWulf (782458) | more than 5 years ago | (#23557901)

In a trail I wouldn't be looking at the community but if the game runs on my hardware, the polish of the experience and if the game play as such is fun. The best community in the world wouldn't get me to play AoC as long as I don't have the comp to run it and the revolutionary new combat system is nothing but added tedium over auto attack. Reversely, a bad community would never turn me away from a fun game. Decent people are a lot easier to find then decent games.

A little tangent here: Why is it that cutting edge games like Crysis and AoC are not playable on specs far exceeding the stated minimum requirements and look like shit on the lowest settings? Why can I play WoW with everything on highest and 4xAA fluently and AoC runs slow as hell even though it looks worse on low settings?

Re:Open Week (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23495412)

There is something about EQ1 that gets me to keep my sub going, even though when I log on, the servers are almost dead. A level 80 in EQ1 is truly a badge of honor, because of all the grinding it took to earn that, even not factoring all the AAs it takes along the way.

EQ2 is an interesting MMO. If you do the strategy like in WoW and just grind levels to level cap, your character will be a lot weaker (although at level cap, you can get AAs by killing stuff, but it will be quite slow) than someone who quests, kills named mobs at the right level ranges, due to EQ2's AA system (which is similar to WoW's talents, except you earn points by exploration, killing nameds, finishing up quests, and finding rare items.) It can be argued that EQ2's "endgame" starts at level 1.

EQ2 is my mainstay these days, because it has good gameplay, decent graphics, and plenty to do. WoW is OK, although the endgame is pretty much losing BGs and trying to hold up a so-so score in arenas for gear, as most of the playerbase is too amateurish to raid or even run instances with. Even the poorest players in EQ2 are able to do basic group functions (fighter classes hold agro, healer classes heal and not try DPS, scout and mage classes DPS, but watch agro.) I can say confidently that the bottom 10-15% of the playerbase in EQ1, EQ2, or Vanguard, if moved to WoW will be above average instance runners or raiders, just due to the differing population dynamics.

Its not that WoW doesn't have good gameplay. It shows a lot of dedication on Blizzard's part to get a game with WoW's graphics and gameplay to work on such low end hardware that it works on. However, PvP class balance is pretty pathetic (you either are one of two classes, or are HK for those classes), and the chatter in various chat channels makes one wonder who is feeding so many people the lead paint chips.
I've not tried Vanguard, but I really wish SOE had given Sigil enough capital to allow them to complete a release 1-2 years later, so all three continents would be fleshed out, tradeskilling (which is difficult) ironed out, and perhaps some raid content put in.

Re:Open Week (5, Informative)

MeanderingMind (884641) | more than 5 years ago | (#23496776)

I think you, naturally, haven't been keeping up on WoW. That probably shows you're an intelligent individual, unlike myself.

It's been months since it was more efficient to grind than quest, and while each class has its nemesis and victim there isn't a single class that gets a free ride in PvP, or has it overly difficult. If you're referencing Arenas, it's certain class combinations that are overpowered rather than specific classes.

Just a friendly update.

Re:Open Week (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503396)

Yeah, there's a few logistical issues to work out but I'm sure Sony can take the load if prepared (I'm not being sarcastic...).

Good point, because if the game finally takes off this is exactly what you are going to get: more load.
If the servers cannot handle the extra players of the open week, they won't be able to handle more regular subscribers either.

Re:Open Week (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23571473)

Lord of the Rings Online is a good alternative to EQ/EQ2, and for people like me who played Vanguard just long enough to realize how flawed it was.

Right now they are offering "lifetime" for only $199 like they offered the beta testers at launch... quite a bargain and Turbine keeps pumping out major updates, new zones, and content for free... it makes Vanguard look like a joke... stable and finished and a ton of quests and content, including the awesome instanced Epic quests.

what specs (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23494724)

I wonder what his so-called "average gamer's" PC actually is. I highly doubt it really is. Maybe "average HARDCORE gamer's PC".

QQ (1)

GroeFaZ (850443) | more than 5 years ago | (#23494824)

"Second chance for a first impression" hits it on the head. They are not Blizzard, and they could not back Vanguard with an already strong franchise, so the game has to impress on its own from day one. With so many high-quality and/or free MMOs to choose from nowadays, you either have to find a niche of your own, like ArenaNet with GuildWars, or you have to take on the biggest, right out of the gate.

What tech issues? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23495322)

I've been playing MMO games for years now and this is the first I had heard about any technical problems at launch.

The reason I never even tried the game is that from reading the forums and all the discussion and reviews on Vanguard, I really got the impression that the game is (and was designed as) a huge grind-fest with little to no soloability. Most of my friends that play this type of game never even considered Vanguard for the same reason.

Re:What tech issues? (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#23497490)

Most of my friends that play this type of game never even considered Vanguard for the same reason.

Being forced into groups can make the 'grindfest' tolerable, even fun. Because you aren't sitting their watching your xp bar, you are hanging out with other people. The key is finding groups of competent social people. (and being one yourself.)

The -best- way for a 'group-centric' game to work, is to brutally force players together into groups. Give no quarter to solers, and stick to your guns no matter how much they whine about it.

1) It weeds out the anti-social people who just want to solo. The game simply isn't fun for them, because they can't accomplish squat. So they go play WoW or something else.

2) That means the players that are left ARE sociable people and looking to group. That right there is a big help.

3) It ensures that the vast majority of upper level players are reasonably competent in group settings. You aren't going to have a 70th level priest that's never combat healed "someone else" before or who measures his worth in dps, who hasn't bothered to buy his group heal spells.

Sure there are going to be lousy players, but fewer of them, and the harder the game is, the more they'll get weeded out because fewer groups will carry players that keep getting them killed due to incompetence.

It may sound 'elitist' but its not really, not more than any team sport is, at least, for example. And I'm not saying soloers can't have their games... but I think for a game to be truly good for 'group' oriented players it should exclude soloers rather than try to be all things to all people. Encouraging solo players just frustrates the groupers, and makes soloing the path of least resistance. Despite the fact that I, at least, find soloing to be the most absurd waste of time imaginable, given the mindlessly repetitive gameplay -- for me if you take away the grouping from a mmorpg... there isn't anything worthwhile left. But again, that's me, and people like me... soloers can have their games, but 'small groupers' should have theirs too.

Similarly I don't think too heavy a focus on the 'raid game' is productive for a group-oriented game.

Re:What tech issues? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23607617)

I dont think what you wrote is elitist at all. The word i would have used is stupid.

For an MMO to be truly successfull it needs to accomodate the "anti-socials" and the "guild minded"

There is a reason that wow has more subscribers than all of its competition combined times 2.

Re:What tech issues? (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#23628877)

I play a lot in small groups (2-3), and I love being in a guild with larger groups.

My problem with "Being forced into groups" is the inability to solo, or do small group quests.

To start, just because you solo, does not mean you are anti-social. Sometimes you don't have the time to get a group together. IT always take 10-30 min (sometime smuch much longer) to get people together, and sometimes that is all you have to play. So if you jsut wanted to log in, do a quick quest or work on a little xp and log off before the wife get's home, you cant if you ahve to group.

Forced grouping killed DDO for me. I played nightly with a friend, but because so much of the material you had to have a full group (Rogue, Healer, Tank, DPS), we often found ourselves sitting around for an hour unable to find the missing player we needed for a group. So we quit playing because there were was not the player base to support a full group.

IMO, a good MMO would have gameplay for people who want to solo, do small groups, reg. groups and raids. Forcing people into groups means that there will be a lot of standing around shouting "X Class, X Level, LFG" and a lot of boredom for many people.

Re:What tech issues? (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#23630149)

My problem with "Being forced into groups" is the inability to solo, or do small group quests.

Soloing and small groups are completely different.

I agree you shouldn't be forced into a 6 man group. And I agree games should have piles of content for small groups of 2-4. You shouldn't always need a full group. I never argued otherwise.

To start, just because you solo, does not mean you are anti-social.

True enough. But if the game is solo-friendly, it does mean a boatload of other people are. So when you DO want to group, most of the other players around you have no interest in it.

Sometimes you don't have the time to get a group together. IT always take 10-30 min (sometime smuch much longer) to get people together, and sometimes that is all you have to play.

And making the game solo-friendly AGGRAVATES the problem. Because now, instead of a whole bunch of people looking to form a quick group, they've all gone off to do their own thing. So even if you want to group you can't. Instead of taking 5 minutes to form a group it takes 30.

So if you jsut wanted to log in, do a quick quest or work on a little xp and log off before the wife get's home, you cant if you ahve to group.

You can if there are lots of other people in the same circumstances and everyone has to group.

Again, I am in favor of lots of features to make grouping easier like:
  - short drop-in quests that you can add people to on the fly, and which people can leave so you don't have to commit to hours of play to be a part of it
  - small group support
  - dynamic classes (if a few melee types are currently available one of them could be able to temporarily assume the role of a healer; he wouldn't be a full on cleric -- but they wouldn't have to all sit around waiting for a real cleric. And if a cleric showed up he could revert back to a warrior.
  - sidekick/mentor modes to allow higher and lower level players to group together more effectively. I don't advocate a level one going off to kill the dragon god with a group of level 100's, but there's no reason a bunch of 50s can't form up with a 30, and have the 30th level player temporarily enhanced so he could particpate meaninfully.
  - npc minions to fill out groups. (e.g. if you get 2-3 players together the group can hire a dps or healer npc...)
  - etc, etc, etc

Forced grouping killed DDO for me.

DDO wasn't a good game, in my opinion, For a number of reasons. It wasn't the forced grouping per se, but the rigidity of the forced grouping.

I played nightly with a friend, but because so much of the material you had to have a full group (Rogue, Healer, Tank, DPS), we often found ourselves sitting around for an hour unable to find the missing player we needed for a group.

This is exactly the situation that should NEVER be allowed to happen. If you've got 2-3 people who are ready to play, they should be able to play. There should be lots of material for 2+ people; and players shouldn't be -locked- into their 'character' to the point that you can have 10+ people looking for a group, and yet still not have a viable group, due to the level/class mix.

IMO, a good MMO would have gameplay for people who want to solo, do small groups, reg. groups and raids.

That would not be a good anything. I have no problem with making mmo's for each of those demographics, or making an mmo with some overlap, but trying to support all demographics is going to be poor game.

Forcing people into groups means that there will be a lot of standing around shouting "X Class, X Level, LFG" and a lot of boredom for many people.

That just means the game has implemented grouping wrong. If a game wants to support 'casual small grouping' you need to SUPPORT 'casual small grouping'. Very few games even TRY. And the few that do make it even easier and more productive to just solo, which is counter productive to encouraging casual small groups no matter what else you have in place.

Not that I think WoW is a good MMO but take, for example, their PvP battlegrounds where you (or your small group) form up in a queue, and get allocated to a group/instance and away you go. Now its got LOTS of flaws; it doesn't even try to balance the teams beyond player-count; no thought is givin to the level mix, class mix, equipment level, player-skill-ranking, etc... but as bad as it is (and its terrible)... its far and away better than having people shout in cities trying to form a pickup group with 12+ people. Instead of taking 3-5 minutes to get into a fight, it would take hours.

The point is that people who actually want small group content should be demanding better match-making tools, and more flexibility in how they form groups, rather than demanding solo-content. Solo content just means there are fewer players in the game who will be looking to form groups.

Now, if you are a person that WANTs to solo. I don't hate you and I don't want you to suffer in 'my' ideal MMO. Quite frankly, I want you to play a different MMO, one that caters to solo play. And you shouldn't be happy with WoW... you pay X$ per month, and the fraction of that that goes to development is primarily directed at raid content you'll never see. You should be demanding a solo-duo game, where your subscription money actually goes to creating content for you that's actually interesting.

Yeah (3, Funny)

dunezone (899268) | more than 5 years ago | (#23495688)

And I want a second chance for a first impression with the girl I met last week. I just wasn't performing at top game compared to my competition, but since then I have optimized myself to run more efficiently and smooth. I had some issues moving from one subject to the next but I fixed those issues and now I have a new tool, playing it cool. Just prove me wrong.

About a week or two too late (3, Insightful)

Knara (9377) | more than 5 years ago | (#23495782)

This offer would have been a lot more attractive before Age of Conan released this weekend/yesterday. A little bit too late now, since anyone in the MMO scene who was looking for a new game is now busy running around AoC.

yeah right (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 5 years ago | (#23496004)

What guarantee can you offer that the performance increase didn't come from players leaving?

Re:yeah right (1)

ps_inkling (525251) | more than 5 years ago | (#23496650)

They had six servers, all with anemic populations. About six months ago, they merged the population into three servers (and the pvp server). Server performance was never the issue -- the client side performance is. Yes, the textures are incredibly detailed, the locations are beautifully sculpted. It overwhelms anything less than a NVidia 8800 or similar.

Re:yeah right (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 5 years ago | (#23497690)

the only time performance was a server problem was when they first released the raid zone they had a bug with buff handling that would grind the server to a halt and lag everyone out of that shard (the raid zone is the only "sharded" zone)

the rest of the performance problems have all been client side due to unoptimized or poorly optimized art and code - there have been large performance improvements since launch and the next large Game Update (GU5) has a very large batch of optimizations

The game is droll, doll wise. (4, Informative)

UziBeatle (695886) | more than 5 years ago | (#23496074)

Granted. He is correct in asserting the game runs much smoother than at launch.

So what.

  I've been playing Vanguard for the past 2 months or so after a long away
period following that horrid launch.

  I have had fun, and am with healthy sized guild too.

  Bottom line is though , for style whores like me, the games armor / clothing
is dull and vapid beyond belief.
Example: Roll a caster. Get used to wearing the same smock for levels 10 thru cap level and
learn to love it. Sure, they change the textures on the smocks but that is all the caster gets
to pick from.
  Nothing remotely 'sexy' or different in the least to choose from. God forbid any cleavage ever show.

  People love to bash WoW but Blizzard did get one thing right. There is a fair variety of armor styles
one can choose and if you dont' mind 'gimping' the character you can diverge from the set look.
Yeah, true enough for the hardcore it is no option and everyone looks the same but for those that just
enjoy the game without worrying about capping their leet char to the max there are options with the 'look'.

    LOTRO, Lord of the Rings Online, recently added a great patch that introduced 'appearance armor'. Grand idea
but they foolishly limited the amount of armor/dress up outfits one can pick from or find.

Both of which are leaps and bounds above the mind frakingly dull armor in Vanguard.

Sony also forces every user to use ADMIN mode to launch the damn game.
SOny can shove it up their ass. I'm tired of that 'feature' and it is inexcusable practice.

  It was fun but I'm glad to cancel the account there and Age of Conan has them beat all to hell in the
artwork department in the landscape. As for the appearance of the toons themselves... yeah they are all
human characters and there are no cat or dog people,etc. Oh well, can't have everything now can we?
AOC armor appearance? Only time will tell. I will give them the time, unlike with Vanguard I expect
people will stay and the money will roll in to Funcom.

If in six months time they have not filled in the missing holes like armor style variety, and other dits
and dots then we can shelve it.

Age of Conan has everything going for it that Vanguard won't ever have .
Not because it was impossible to do,
but because SOny is running the game and has zero clue.
 

Interesting inverse relationship (2, Insightful)

sdhankin (213671) | more than 5 years ago | (#23497080)

I've noticed that, with few exceptions (such as a new release), games with good gameplay, high popularity, and rare technical issues have long free trials (WoW has two weeks last time I checked.) Tabula Rasa just gave me a 3 day free trial. Vanguard has no free trial whatsoever.

I'd ask what games with short or nonexistent trials have to hide, but I think the answer is obvious. If Vanguard's producers really believe in their product, they should have no problem with letting folks play for free for a couple of weeks - get them involved, attached and hooked. If, on the other hand, they're afraid people will see the game in a bad light after playing that long, I guess a short trial (or none) makes sense.

Re:Interesting inverse relationship (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 5 years ago | (#23497702)

vanguard is developing a free trial and a product relaunch to coincide with it's availability (before years end)

Re:Infinite free trial? -- Puzzle Pirates (1)

Keybounce (226364) | more than 5 years ago | (#23567419)

Then what do you think of Puzzle Pirates? Free trial over there is infinite, and the game is free to download and play. (Subscription servers -- fixed fee per month -- restrict what you can do, and the pay-as-you-go servers -- fee based on activities -- have stronger restrictions, but lower incremental unlocking costs).

It has good game play, very few technical issues, but it doesn't have the popularity of WoW.

(Personally, I love the economy game over there, despite the issues involved.)

It's a decent game (1)

thezig2 (1102967) | more than 5 years ago | (#23497260)

I've been keeping up with the patch notes and logging in every now and then, and Vanguard's actually a pretty good game now. It's way too grindy for me, and there's not a whole lot you can do solo, but if you liked EQ then Vanguard is good. To be fair, though, they've lowered the XP curve a lot since I played regularly, so give it a try if they ever do a free trial.

Yes But At What Cost (1)

CougMerrik (1221450) | more than 5 years ago | (#23499114)

If performance was the reason you didn't like Vanguard, then you will be very pleasantly surprised if you log back in.

The performance is greatly improved, and appears to be ready to take another leap forward with the next update, but some of the things which made the game more interesting have been scaled back, pushed aside, or neglected. A lot of the mechanics of the game have changed, not all for the better (imo).

Travel has been simplified to essentially EQ Plane of Knowledge levels, with a minor charge for using the portals (called "riftways"). The original faction system (which made certain races kill on sight in other race's territory, ie high elves hate dark elves and vis versa) has been scrapped -- everyone is at least neutral with everyone else. These things may not matter to some people at all.

Reliability in the game can still be an issue -- depending on your set up, you may see graphics glitches, client crashes, or in some cases even a hard freeze. Content is also an issue, but the real content wasteland has been pushed up to the high 30s / mid 40s now.

All that said, if you are sick and tired of your 4 level 70 toons on WoW and are looking for an interesting PvE experience, it's certainly worth some time playing if you have an extra $20.

Join a guild!!? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#23499256)

Allakhazam: If you had to give a new player a piece of advice to make their experience the best possible in Vanguard, what would it be?

Thom: Join a Guild!
... and they lost me again. To me, that means get a bunch of friends so no matter how much we screw up, peer pressure will keep you coming back so you don't disappoint your friends. It tells me that Vanguard is turning into another Guild raid fest. It tells me that they ARE NOT going back to the roots of what Vanguard was supposed to be. Fun. Group oriented. Regional commerce/dungeons/progression...

By promoting guilds you pretty much assure that fast travel will stay (and the original pitch was for nothing but mounts and boats) so that guild mates can get together quicker and raid. You promote the social peer pressure to stay in the game longer even if your class is totally screwed up. You promote the idea that you HAVE to hit max level to play with everyone in your guild. You will bypass quests and power level to do it. Content lower than max is pointless since nobody is there to group. Mob mentality quests will be common, guilds will probably take on a role like EQ2 where losing a person hurts the guild. People won't group outside their guild. Isolation for anyone planning on doing a pickup group or quest involving more than one person. Thus, you have to find a serious guild that will hound you to play more even though you hate the direction it's going leading back to my peer pressure argument. They love that re-subbing base who will grin and bear an un-fun game.

I said it before, and I'll say it again, MMOs cannot function (be unique, sell, etc.) with a focus on guilds. MMOs have to promote individualism, pride in one's character, not one's guild, fun stories, dungeons, and interesting quests. They have to promote working with other people to get things you need. Not your guild.

They need to promote regional pride. ("I grew up in such and such an area. We had a griffin that would run rampant and kill noobs if you weren't careful." "Ah, I remember those days. Let's go back there and help someone out a bit... I just picked up this nice weapon, but it doesn't help me." [instead of.. wonder what the auction house can get me for this!]) You'd do what you can for the people that grew up in your area. You know what they went through. They should also reflect an image of your place of raising. Everyone talks about ethnic diversity in real life. Why not in MMOs? In Everquest, barbarians wore skins, painted their faces and you rarely found them in Kelethin unless they were high level. It was cool meeting a Dark Elf in a city that would kill them if they knew they were there. You had to be crafty to get things you want. Take the sewer entrance, carefully invis your way to a spot in the dungeon. Illusion yourself to sneak past the guards...

Ugh, I'm ranting. Either way. Until MMOs stop catering to the WoW crowd who want to max out, raid and PVP, I won't be playing another one anytime soon.

Re:Join a guild!!? (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#23506300)

You live in a world I don't understand. Guilds are a way to meet new people and make friends. Guilds all have different objectives. Some are for leveling, some are for end game, some are just so you have people to chat with. I don't feel any pressure to level any faster than I want to in a guild. I choose to play the game the way I want it. No one pressures me...if I felt like that, I would join a different guild. All MMOs rely on co-op play and friendship to keep you playing. Not because of peer pressure, but because you want to hang out with the people you like. If you are afraid of peer pressure, just stick to single player games. If that question was asked about any MMO out there, joining a guild would be a valid response for any of them.

Ahh The Classic (1)

davidpfarrell (562876) | more than 5 years ago | (#23510448)

Man I rocked Vanguard [mobygames.com] on my Atari 2600 way back in 1982.

I haven't really played it much since, so I'm not sure know why he's spending all this time optimizing it?

Maybe they're working on Zond's AI, he was quite a wuss

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