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Why Vanguard Sets a Bad Precedent for MMOGs

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the don't-ship-it-unless-its-fun dept.

Role Playing (Games) 135

The ever-enjoyable Gamers with Jobs has up a fascinating look at the recently released MMOG Vanguard . The article's author, Elysium, takes pains to point out that it's not a review. He didn't play the title long enough to get a firm grasp of the game; he just didn't care enough to spend the time. He outlines what makes Vanguard a bad game, and then points out that the game's creator Brad McQuaid himself has as much as admitted it was released too early. Sony Online Entertainment saved the game from bankruptcy, and released it when the schedule said to and not a moment later. In Elysium's mind, this sets up a really, really bad precedent: "Now that the game has released in its incomplete state, in a state that McQuaid himself describes as requiring patches, bug fixes and new feature implementation on par with a beta product, Sigil essentially comes to the consumer as the third investor in the process of the development cycle, and that is not just a terrible way of doing business, but an irresponsible step in the wrong direction for complicit consumers. Let me put it bluntly, if a game is not ready for retail when the money runs out find another investor or shut the doors. We are customers, and the retail end of the industry is bad enough about not supporting incomplete or inoperable products without developers and publishers assuming we are investors in the development process. Your job as the industry is to create product, and then, and only then, we buy it."

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Early? Yes. Bad? No. (0)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131722)

Vanguard combines what I believed to be the best of EQ1 and WoW, my two favorite MMORPGs to date. I have only two problems with it, or three if you count sub-problems. One, it is Windows only (and Wine GLSL doesnt handle it well, yet!). Two, it is buggy, but improving at a rapid rate. And three, one of the biggest bugs affects framerate causing the game to be unplayable on older hardware and less than desirably configurable on new hardware.

That said, I expect to play this game for at least a few months once I can, longer if my friends still play by then.

Re:Early? Yes. Bad? No. (0)

Wind_Walker (83965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131784)

So let me get this straight. The game is buggy and you're unable to play it, but you're excited about it and believe it will be great once you do get to play it.

Re:Early? Yes. Bad? No. (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131898)

Close, but no cigar. It is buggy and I am unable to play it on my own computer in my OS of choice. I have already played it plenty and know that I like it.

Re:Early? Yes. Bad? No. (1)

Xymor (943922) | more than 7 years ago | (#18134192)

A buggy system can be very frustrating but I've found a couple of games that had premises good enough to outshine the technical difficulties. Considering your review I think this fits the profile, I'll get it and take a look.

And about Publishers pushing Developers, have this guys ever heard of contracts? It's a nice concept we adopted in software development a while back, you should google it, it would make your development cycle much easier.

Re:Early? Yes. Bad? No. (1, Interesting)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131948)

I admit I've never played any MMOG at the high levels (aside from UO, arguably), but it's always seemed to me that EverQuest spawned a line of games -- Dark Age of Camelot, Anarchy Online, etc -- that had essentially the same gameplay as EQ, with some tweaks and maybe a few additional features. WoW strikes me as the best of that genre, a highly-polished EverQuest. I'm trying, but I can't think of any positive features of EQ (aside from nostalgia) that are absent in WoW.

Re:Early? Yes. Bad? No. (2, Insightful)

the unbeliever (201915) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132046)

Difficulty? WoW is made for casual gamers. I've gotten an alt to level sixty (pre BoC) in less than 96 hours played time.

Community? In EQ, you were forced to group, unless you played one of a handful of classes. Being forced to interact with other people built up a sense of community. All I saw in WoW were random names that happened to be going the same places I was.

Competition? The prevalence of instancing in WoW basically destroyed the idea of competition. All that you have is who is first to beat new content. There's no more racing for big named mobs, which was part of the fun of EQ, imo.

Re:Early? Yes. Bad? No. (2, Insightful)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132258)

Difficulty? WoW is made for casual gamers. I've gotten an alt to level sixty (pre BoC) in less than 96 hours played time.

Community? In EQ, you were forced to group, unless you played one of a handful of classes. Being forced to interact with other people built up a sense of community. All I saw in WoW were random names that happened to be going the same places I was.

Competition? The prevalence of instancing in WoW basically destroyed the idea of competition. All that you have is who is first to beat new content. There's no more racing for big named mobs, which was part of the fun of EQ, imo.


To you, that was what was right about EQ. To me that was what was wrong about EQ. I want to decide when to play my games. I don't want it decided for me. For EQ for all the high level mobs and being first ect.. dictates you sink all free time into it. It's not even all that compelling or fun. The socialization was cool but sometimes you want just log in, finish a few quest and do some fishing ect.. without the necessity to grou into a 40 man raid to find your fishing hole. But to each their own. I prefer WOW mostly. Wow is not made for casual players. it's made for medium hardcore ones while EQ is made for heavy hardcore ones.

Re:Early? Yes. Bad? No. (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132314)

Difficulty? WoW is made for casual gamers. I've gotten an alt to level sixty (pre BoC) in less than 96 hours played time.

The time to level isn't difficulty, I've played through games that take one hour to finish and are MUCH harder than any MMO I've ever seen and likewise I've played through games that took 40 hours or more but were as easy as a walk in the park (discounting the dog shit you have to dodge all the time on a real walk). Are the fights in Vanguard really more difficult to pull off than the fights in WoW?

Competition? The prevalence of instancing in WoW basically destroyed the idea of competition. All that you have is who is first to beat new content. There's no more racing for big named mobs, which was part of the fun of EQ, imo.

Most people probably didn't like how many more options that gave to griefers and farmers to annoy people.

Re:Early? Yes. Bad? No. (1)

MicktheMech (697533) | more than 7 years ago | (#18134284)

Are the fights in Vanguard really more difficult to pull off than the fights in WoW?

I've played Vanguard since its "retail" release, having quit WoW in December (exams). In my opinion the combat is much more involved than in WoW. You always have a variety of abilities to use and some are more appropriate to different situations. Plus, the chained abilities are a lot of fun. My Dreadknight is really fun to solo, where in WoW my warrior would just sit back and sunder away with some rends and overpowers thrown in.

And don't forget the eye candy. When I crit with Malice and hit Wrack with a greatsword, it just looks cool. In WoW I spent more time looking at the action/status bars.

Re:Early? Yes. Bad? No. (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132706)

Competition? The prevalence of instancing in WoW basically destroyed the idea of competition. All that you have is who is first to beat new content. There's no more racing for big named mobs, which was part of the fun of EQ, imo.

Yes, because there's just loads of fun competing against a team of people who take turns keeping specific mobs on farm status over and over again so I could never get my JBoots.

WoW removed the "competition" of having to be the first one to a specific mob in the once-in-24 hours that it spawns so you can get the ultra-rare item. Which, basically was over half the asshattery in EQ.

Re:Early? Yes. Bad? No. (2, Insightful)

garylian (870843) | more than 7 years ago | (#18134992)

Competition? The prevalence of instancing in WoW basically destroyed the idea of competition. All that you have is who is first to beat new content. There's no more racing for big named mobs, which was part of the fun of EQ, imo.
IMO, this was the WORST feature of EQ1.

I don't know what server you played on, but on Xegony, Time was effectively blocked by about 3 guilds that had access to it, for over a year. They killed every mob needed for planar advancement as soon as it spawned. The only way you had a chance was a random server restart that they couldn't mobilize fast enough for, and then you had to race another group of guilds/alliances that were trying to do the same thing you were. There were several times that we were almost to full raid force to take out a mob, and an uber raid guild would run right past our assemblage and take out the mob, because they heard it was up, or they knew its spawn time.

Lack on instanced content meant that one guild or a few guilds could effectively block others from content. So, I pay the same amount of money, but other players can cut me out of the top end content, just so they can keep it to themselves? No thanks!

Lack of instanced content is going to be a problem for V:SoH, if they set things up in a similar fashion. Once the tightest guilds figure out they can block high end content (and therefore, the better loot) to themselves, it will happen.

Instanced content, even for the highest end stuff, means that no one guild/group can keep others from getting to it. Uber Guild A can raid that mob its allotted once a week, and every other casual guild can hit it just as often, or as few times as they want. What's wrong with that?

Oh, yeah, you wanted to brag. Well, if you want to brag, play on a PvP server, where competition is the norm.

Re:Early? Yes. Bad? No. (1)

MSojka (83577) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132922)

... EverQuest spawned a line of games ...

It's more like "... DikuMUD spawned a line of games ..."

Re:Early? Yes. Bad? No. (1)

MicktheMech (697533) | more than 7 years ago | (#18134222)

It's more like "... DikuMUD spawned a line of games ..."


On that note, does anyone know of any ROM based muds that are still alive? (i.e. 15+ non-afk players online?)

WoW is seen by some as "EQ Lite" (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132996)

The simplest objection some have about WoW is that it is too simple. This is about taste and cannot really be argued.

One of the things is about how death is handled. SWG at one time handled it so bad that players commited suicide as a way to quickly travel back to base. This is not a good thing for a game. There should be at least some suspension of disbelief and everyone in your party jumping into a lavastream after the big fight saying, "see you later" just doesn't do it.

WoW requires you to go back to your body in an invulnerable form from a fixed point and then respawn in the immidiate area of your body. If you don't you suffer a severe hit to your stats for a period of time.

The "punishement" aspects here are obvious. Going back to your corpse is boring, if in a party it requires everyone to wait, and you better hope they wait because what ever killed you will still be there + fresh respawns.

Some people think this is too though while others think it is too weak. Both are right.

If I remember correctly (I haven't played any MMO in months and they tend to blur together) in EQ2 the punishements are slightly more severe, you respawned alive and well similar to were your ghosts spawns in WoW but with a severe hit to your stats and XP. You could lighten the punishement by recovering your "shard" from your place of death.

Think for a second about the difference between WoW and EQ2 right there. In WoW you travel back to your corpse in order to continue meaningfull play in invulenrable mode, it is nothing but a time waster. You died so you don't get to play for a few minutes. Don't die again.

In EQ2 you are back in the game again from the moment you die BUT severely reduced and now faced with the same journey as a WoW player except you are very vulnerable and now got to fight everything between you and your bleeding mangled corpse.

That is not all, your group has not only now lost a valuable member of your party (or a piece of dead weight) but now faces the choice of making their way back to the entrance to pick you up and escort you to your corpse OR going on in reduced state.

A common sight in EQ2 was to see players hitching a ride into a dungeon with later groups to get back to their group waiting inside.

Obviously therefore death is something far more severe in EQ2 then in WoW. Some people like this.

Yeah it can be seen as a waste of time but it can also be seen as a way of getting better players who actively take care of each other. Having played both of them I have noted that EQ2 groups tend to work better together then WoW. In EQ2 EVERYONE in the group shared in your XP penalty. Can you imagine WoW players trying to deal with this? (The shared XP hit was removed from EQ2, as were shard runs apparently)

There is however yet another way of doing death. SWG had an amazing concept that I think was unique. Not all enemies killed you. You had three bars, if one was reduced to zero you were knocked out. It was then up to the enemy to deliver a finishing blow. Not all critters would do that (depending on species) and even if they wanted too it was possible for them to be distracted by your team mates. This added a whole new element to the game. Now there was still the tactical option of "saving" a teammate because a lesser class of healer could recover them on the field then a death character. Any medic could revive a knocked out character while death was only reversible by a highlevel doctor.

This made it actually important to have a few points in medic as a fighter as it allowed you to recover your true medic when they got knocked out. (because of SWG design were actions causes health bar loss a hardworking medic could put themselves in a vulnerable state were a single hit could knock them out)

Needlessly complex OR intresting gameplay? It is a matter of taste. (That is to say nothing of the difference between having a dedicated action/mana bar from wich you perform your actions and having to pay for your actions with your health bar. Drain your bar in WoW and you just can't do anything special, Drain them in SWG and you are out cold. Wich one is more tactical?)

Do you want your WW2 tank to have 1 health bar, different bars for the front/rear/left/right side armour, realistic damage modelling? All have been done in games and all modes are valid. Different players, different tastes.

Personally I prefer the "deeper" gameplay. I preferred EQ2 tactical choice of sending an escort back to pick up the player at the dungeon entrance while the rest kept the area clear.

Yes, WoW in many ways is more polished then EQ2 and SWG, this cannot be denied.

However, it is also in some ways dumbed down. This is NOT the same as being polished, in the same way the "deep" gameplay doesn't have to be unpolished.

Sadly in today's MMO market the "deep" games lack polish. Not because they are to complex but simply because they haven't been as well produced as WoW.

Currently a lot of gamers like me are forced to choose between deep games that are badly put together or WoW high quality blandness.

WoW simply doesn't challenge me, and seems to attract the kind of players that I just don't like. I never seen so much childish behaviour over loot/xp as in WoW for exmaple.

This is taste. In a perfect world we could all have our perfect game to suit our tastes. Personally I LIKED the idea of SWG's perma death for jedi's. Corpse run? Pah, babystuff.

Just because WoW is polished does not mean everyone likes its gameplay. You could serve me the finest wine ever produced and I would still NOT like wine.

You can't think of any "positive" features that are missing from WoW compared to EQ. But that is a personal taste judgement. Others might disagree. YOU do not determine what everyone else should want in a game.

That is why we still in todays non-flightsim market got half a dozen civilian flight sims on the market. Taste differs.

Re:WoW is seen by some as "EQ Lite" (3, Interesting)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133208)

I'm sure you have some good points, but both the OP and I were referring to the original EverQuest. I know nothing about EQ2.

WoW simply doesn't challenge me, and seems to attract the kind of players that I just don't like. I never seen so much childish behaviour over loot/xp as in WoW for exmaple.
Ugh. The number of morons who feel the need to speak in the general chat is amazing. I thought the RP servers might be better since they theoretically have rules, but if anything they're worse.

Just because WoW is polished does not mean everyone likes its gameplay.
I would agree that WoW makes things too easy and shallow. But judging from the sales numbers, I'm guessing *most* people don't enjoy EQ-style downtime, camping, severe XP loss + corpse retrieval, etc. There are myriad arguments to be made about handling death in a MMORPG, but I don't really want to get into that too deeply now. It is kind of interesting that WoW makes the penalty small but pointlessly tedious (a shortish invulnerable run). An EQ corpse retrieval was often difficult and resulted in many people losing hours or days of "work", but at least it involved something other than sheer boredom. I think both these penalties suck equally, and I don't have the solution.

You could serve me the finest wine ever produced and I would still NOT like wine.
Heresy! But there is an analogy to be drawn here with WoW as the cheap-but-drinkable popular beer. It also tends to attract large numbers of idiots.

Personally, I haven't really liked anything since Ultima Online started sucking. I'm kind of looking for another MMORPG to try, after getting bored with Guild Wars, but I don't see anything out there.

Re:WoW is seen by some as "EQ Lite" (2, Insightful)

Madpony (935423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18136822)

But judging from the sales numbers, I'm guessing *most* people don't enjoy EQ-style downtime, camping, severe XP loss + corpse retrieval, etc.

Who DOES like these things? I played a lot of EQ years ago because it was, in my opinion, the best MMORPG out on the market at the time. Later I made it into the WoW beta, and I have been playing ever since. Here are the things that I think WoW has going for it over EQ and EQ2:

  • Better artwork with an overal consistency of style
  • Easy-to-use questing interface that's actually fun and rewarding
  • The ability to almost always play solo with any class
  • No more experience penalties on death
  • No more painfully long meditation breaks between battles
  • More benefit and less annoyance with PvP play
  • I can play for one hour and, in that time, accomplish something and have fun no matter my level.
  • Retrieving my corpse after death is no longer more tactically complicated than any other part of the gameplay.
  • Faster, non-realistic duration, world travel
I'm sure there are plenty more things. But it was because of things like these, that I never wanted to play EQ ever again. I've been playing WoW for over 2 years now, and I still have a great time with it. It has a lot to offer a much broader audience. But, then again, I'm sure that's obvious based on the size of its subscriber base.

Re:WoW is seen by some as "EQ Lite" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18137362)

No more experience penalties on death

Just cause no one has mentioned it yet....Keep in mind that Blizzard did not start making games with WOW.

The true predecessor to WOW is not Warcraft 3, but Diablo 2. In Diablo 2 you lost experience when you died. I think many game developers, as with Blizzard, think this is a good idea initially. But as you can see with WOW, they decided against it.

Having played Diablo2 way too much, it's very evident how much they learned from it in WOW. People pretend as if EQ was the first ever multiplayer fantasy game and on and on...but WOW is shockingly similar to Diablo2, with incrementally improved game mechanics and the graphics are 3D.

Re:WoW is seen by some as "EQ Lite" (1)

Harlockjds (463986) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133824)

>in EQ2 the punishements are slightly more severe, you respawned alive and well similar to were your ghosts spawns in WoW but with a severe hit to your stats and XP. You could lighten the punishment by recovering your "shard" from your place of death

they removed the whole 'go get your shard' bit, Not you respawn at a spawn point with a mild xp and stat hit.

Re:WoW is seen by some as "EQ Lite" (1)

Rayonic (462789) | more than 7 years ago | (#18134596)

WoW requires you to go back to your body in an invulnerable form from a fixed point and then respawn in the immidiate area of your body. If you don't you suffer a severe hit to your stats for a period of time.

You also get a durability hit to all your armor (and currently equipped weapon). This can be repaired at a vendor, for a fee. Of course this is especially bad if you die too many times in the middle of a dungeon. Items with 0 durability are no longer useful.

It doesn't sound like you've played WoW all that much, if you don't know that basic tidbit. Of course, that didn't stop you from posting a lengthy diatribe about it. :-/

3 months last spring (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 7 years ago | (#18138616)

And as I explained, the games tend to run together. Frankly I couldn't recall if that item damage was in WoW or if I recalled it from another game.

Anyway, it was pretty trivial, if you die that much (was it about 10% damange meaning you had to die 10 times before it affects you) you are in the wrong group. The repair costs were pretty low so the only effect was that it punished you if you were dying an extreme amount. In my experience it was only an effect on players who didn't just repair after a session and found themselves going into a raid with badly damaged equipment. Then again, this is an MMO staple.

But no I didn't play the game too much. Not because of WoW itself but I just don't play much during the summer. RPG's are for the long winter nights.

Re:Early? Yes. Bad? No. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133474)

You've stated the bad, and that's what I usually look for in a review when I want a new game. (I've been considering Vanguard for a while.) But I find that nobody is stating the good, which is disconcerting. Can you tell me what you -do- like about the game? In particular, can you tell me how good/bad the combat, magic, crafting, and quest systems are?

Thanks

Re:Early? Yes. Bad? No. (1)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133952)

And four:

"Combines the best [worst?] of EQ1 and WoW"

Really, this says it all. It's a terribly derivative product with little or no thought behind what might actually propel the industry forward. Then again, who was expecting anything more from Brad?

Re:Early? Yes. Bad? No. (1)

dreag (1028776) | more than 7 years ago | (#18134400)

This was not a review of the game, more a review of Sigil and SOE's policies. I was very much looking forward to Vanguard, as an old UO player I am still looking for a similar experience but with a bit more gloss. I was very active in the forums for over a year (under a different name) but when it came time to buy my pre-ordered collector's edition I didn't have to think twice, Vanguard, in it's current condition is not worth the price of a standard edition. I still have high hopes for the game but, as many of us believed, when SOE stepped in there was going to be a high price to pay and this is it. But, to be clear, Vanguard is not the first MMOG to trip over the first step. Many of the MMOGs I played and tested have had horrible launches, I believe Anarchy Online and World War II Online are tied for the worst launch. In fact I can only think of one game, Dark Ages of Camelot, that had a fairly good launch, although some higher level elements were patched in (I have not played EQ2 or FFXI). If Vanguard had followed Half Life 2 Ep:2 and Spore and pushed back launch until Q3 2007 I believe it would have been more than what I expected.

Informed customers knew it (4, Insightful)

Wind_Walker (83965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131744)

Anybody who investigated the game online knew that the game was rushed (or they did a poor job investigating). I was among those on internet forums talking about major game-wide changes being made in the final month of production. They changed how XP was awarded, they implemented item durability, and they put in flying mounts within the last 4 weeks of Beta.

Of course there were still the die-hards who dismissed these with their standard "Go back to WoW" line, but everybody knew it was true. The die-hards often commented that they knew they were going to be funding a retail Beta, but didn't care because they "believed in the vision"

So I don't think it's setting a bad precedent - the precedent was there long before Vanguard. Asheron's Call 2, Dungeons and Dragons Online, The Matrix Online, Star Wars Galaxies... all beta'd by me, and all forced out the door too soon. It's no coincidence that they're all doing poorly, with one (AC2) dead.

World of Warcraft was not forced out the door, and in fact slipped over 2 years from its initial announced release date of Winter 2002. I beta'd WoW, and while there were still a few small bugs (and their servers were underprepared for the launch) it was polished and it shows in its subscriber numbers.

The only way we can change the precedent is by being informed customers and not buying crap when we know it's crap. The only way a company like SOE will stop rushing release dates is when they see long-term dissatisfaction outweighing short-term development costs. If they threw another $2 million into development and pushed Vanguard back a few months it would have made a world of difference, giving them subscribers for years to come. Blizzard understood this.

Re:Informed customers knew it (5, Interesting)

AugstWest (79042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132222)

I agree, this precedent was definitely not set by Vanguard. I played Vendetta Online for a bit, and it had issues, and ws under constant development on a day-to-day basis. It added a very nice feel to the game.

ATITD had the feeling of being in regular development as well, although it was very stable.

Don't even get me STARTED on Eve Online... There are bugs affecting everyday gameplay that have existed pretty much since launch. Every patch breaks something that previously worked, and getting acknowledgement of the bugs from the devs is like pulling teeth.

These bugs have become so commonplace that they're now part of the game, and finding exploits and utilizing them is an arms race.

So yeah, Vanguard may have been pushed out early, but it's definitely not the first game to go through it.

Re:Informed customers knew it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18132562)

Asheron's Call 2, Dungeons and Dragons Online, The Matrix Online, Star Wars Galaxies... all beta'd by me, and all forced out the door too soon. It's no coincidence that they're all doing poorly

Maybe you should stop getting involved at the beta-testing stages.

Re:Informed customers knew it (4, Insightful)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132580)

Thats the thing this industry still has yet to learn...

Ship a bad game on time and no one cares.
Ship a good game late, and people won't remember how late it was.

Hardly anyone has such faith in their products anymore...

Re:Informed customers knew it (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 7 years ago | (#18134766)

Thats the opposite of what is happening.

Ship a bad game (on time or not), it gets slaughtered. Think about any bad game, does the fact that it shipped late factor into why its bad?
Ship a good game late and people will still love it. In the long run, if its good no one complains about how they waited two months for it. They are too busy playing it.

Re:Informed customers knew it (1)

Sage Gaspar (688563) | more than 7 years ago | (#18135704)

Ship a buggy MMO on time and you get an instant cash influx, a good amount of people that will pay for a few months regardless, and a large majority of people who will still resubscribe or buy the game once it becomes more stable. You basically get people paying to beta and it doesn't lose you many players.

Re:Informed customers knew it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18134742)

World of Warcraft was not forced out the door, and in fact slipped over 2 years from its initial announced release date of Winter 2002. I beta'd WoW, and while there were still a few small bugs (and their servers were underprepared for the launch) it was polished and it shows in its subscriber numbers.

Fanboy alert! This is a flat out lie. Try actually walking around the game. Now see that unfinished area there? How about the other right there? There are tons of areas not finished. Just try taking a few flight paths once in a while. How about the one from the Dwarven starting town? Or the one through Stonetalon? Or ride south from Gadgetzan? Or...

Or how the manual said there were battlegrounds in it, but they didn't come out for six months after the game was out. Or how Karazhan (sp?) was supposed to be out at launch, and just now made it in the "Expansion". Grim Batol (sp?) anyone? How about NPCs called "Addon" which stood by the entrance to yet another finished land?

Do you even play the game?

Re:Informed customers knew it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18135558)

Not the OP, but I've played WOW off and on since around the time battlegrounds came out. I'm not sure what game you're being so defensive over, but nothing you say really disagrees with the OPs points. WOW didn't release things into the game until they're finished. Battlegrounds didnt come out on day 1 because they werent finished. In comparison, there are other games (and non-game software products) that are released and THEN tested.

I've walked around all of WOW, and it sounds like you actually haven't. I've never seen any unfinished areas. I've seen posts online about unfinished areas that you can use various exploits to get to and take screenshots of. You bullshit as if everywhere you turn there are missing textures and gaping black chasms of nothingness.

You seem to have a bad misunderstanding of "adding features to a game" versus "adding incomplete and untested features to a game". When battlegrounds was added, it worked. When Karazhan was added, it worked, and its fun. If this was Vanguard, battlegrounds, flying mounts, and Karazhan would have been released back at launch, horrificly broken. What Blizzard did instead was far, far better.

Re:Informed customers knew it (1)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 7 years ago | (#18141142)

There is no unfinished area near Ironforge. There's the Ironforge Airfield, but it's hardly unfinished... it's just not used in the game. Empty areas or areas under construction are not accessible by ordinary means, and with wallwalking almost eliminated they're even more inaccessible.

As far as I can tell you define an unfinished area as an area that you can't visit on foot. That doesn't make any sense.

Do you even play the game?

It's clear that you don't. Someone who plays the game wouldn't call Ironforge "the Dwarven starting town."

Re:Informed customers knew it (2, Insightful)

garylian (870843) | more than 7 years ago | (#18135078)

So I don't think it's setting a bad precedent - the precedent was there long before Vanguard. Asheron's Call 2, Dungeons and Dragons Online, The Matrix Online, Star Wars Galaxies... all beta'd by me, and all forced out the door too soon. It's no coincidence that they're all doing poorly, with one (AC2) dead.

World of Warcraft was not forced out the door, and in fact slipped over 2 years from its initial announced release date of Winter 2002. I beta'd WoW, and while there were still a few small bugs (and their servers were underprepared for the launch) it was polished and it shows in its subscriber numbers.
I beta'd most of those same games, as well as WoW. WoW wasn't completely finished, either. And the beta community was telling Blizzard loud and clear that certain things needed to be fixed. But Blizzard had delayed release too many times, and they needed to get the damn thing out the door. So, they pushed it.

But the simple fact is, no MMO is released as a full gold. They haven't been for a long time. They know that once they go past the beta, all sorts of bugs are going to turn up, and their server infrastructure is going to get a serious workout that no stress test can duplicate. WoW had 20 servers that were routinely down due to problems, and it took them quite a while to straighten them out. I remember vividly, because I was stuck on one of them.

So, a beta test eventually hits a point of diminishing returns. No matter how many people you keep adding to it, you are only going to get so much feedback, since 90% of the beta players act like all they are there for is a free look at the game, and don't spend time in the forums reporting bugs.

Why does this sound familiar? (-1, Troll)

ArcSecond (534786) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131762)

Releasing buggy software, and letting your customers do your beta testing for you?

Looks like they are taking a page from Microsoft's development manual.

Re:Why does this sound familiar? (1)

josteos (455905) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132020)

Looks like they are taking a page from Microsoft's development manual.
BetaField 2/2142 players might say that Microsoft isn't the only one who likes to call this play on 4th down...

Re:Why does this sound familiar? (3, Interesting)

KDan (90353) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132052)

Or... the open source development manual?

Who was it who said "Release Early and Often"? Oh yes, Eric S Raymond, in the seminal The Cathedral and the Bazaar [catb.org] .

Not to mention the plethora of literature about product development in other, non-software environments. All major product companies nowadays release products as fast as they can and let the customers do the "paying beta". Once the features are ironed out, they release a more polished mass-market product that has benefited from all the customer feedback.

Game development has been totally ass-backwards in terms of its development approach since forever. Games are effectively developed in giant waterfall projects which either crash and burn or do extremely well - but you only find out at the end. Unlike the poster of the original article I think it's great to see the games development processes maturing in this way towards what is the de-facto model of choice for product development in the real world. Well done Vanguard!

The results that can be expected from this shift of approach are:

  • People who are keen to try stuff early can do so
  • The costs of development of a game will be reduced (and hopefully the sales price too)
  • The risks of developing a game will be reduced (since you'll know earlier whether the game is viable)
  • Game quality will simply become better! Customer feedback will play a bigger part in shaping the game from much earlier on.
  • More development shops will open as the hurdle to entry lowers
  • Games which are fundamentally shit will be canned earlier
  • More risk can be taken by trying something different if you're only going to invest 3 months of dev time rather than 3 years! Plus you get immediate customer feedback so you can quickly find out whether your new idea is brilliant or a dog.
There are many others... ultimately this is an extremely good move for the industry and we should be very glad of it. Perhaps with this the games industry will finally move towards the "software as a service/continuously updated product" model that is spreading far and wide in the rest of the software and meatspace industry.

Daniel

Yay for the insightful CatB reference. :) (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18133354)

As the President of a relatively successful independent MMO developer, and despite wishing to remain nameless, I feel compelled to leap in and pat you on the back for being able to see the wood amongst the trees. Good post my friend.

Re:Yay for the insightful CatB reference. :) (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133578)

The guy makes a point. I've gotten in the habit of never touching the first release of any new game, app or OS. I've got no such problem with hardware, so the "problem" is not industry-wide.

Re:Yay for the insightful CatB reference. :) (1)

KDan (90353) | more than 7 years ago | (#18135528)

a) it's not a problem, it's a solution (to reduce the risk of releasing a product no one wants to buy)

b) hardware is affected as well. Most major electronics companies, for instance, come up with an "early adopters" product that isn't quite there yet which they manufacture in smaller numbers and don't advertise as much. They then get the customer feedback on that and use it to ensure the next version is much more customer-friendly.

Daniel

Re:Why does this sound familiar? (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#18135132)

Of course, most of the people releasing early are still being idiots. You don't release a buggy product. You release something working but minimal.

Re:Why does this sound familiar? (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 7 years ago | (#18135678)

I agree with the parent post and disagree strongly with the article. I think it's a great way to release games. There are likely hundreds of games that had amazing potential, but ran out of money. I don't think applying this standard to boxed single-player games will work very well, as replayability is minimal already. One buggy run-through and you won't care if the next patch makes the game any better...you've played it.

MMOs are different - the experience changes every time. So I think that putting out something playable but not perfect (this is important...you can't put out complete crap) and use the subscriptions to continue your bankroll. Let the market decide if your game is good enough to stay afloat.

Re:Why does this sound familiar? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18135792)

Not to mention the plethora of literature about product development in other, non-software environments. All major product companies nowadays release products as fast as they can and let the customers do the "paying beta". Once the features are ironed out, they release a more polished mass-market product that has benefited from all the customer feedback.

Game development has been totally ass-backwards in terms of its development approach since forever. Games are effectively developed in giant waterfall projects which either crash and burn or do extremely well - but you only find out at the end. Unlike the poster of the original article I think it's great to see the games development processes maturing in this way towards what is the de-facto model of choice for product development in the real world. Well done Vanguard!


Well, maybe because that's how people play games too? In every single player game, and most of the "small world" games like FPS and such, people play it, then lose interest and move on to the next game. The idea that players will stay on continously requiring new releases (beyond bugfixes and expansion packs) is rather new. I've played a few games in beta, and more often than not I'm sick and tired of the bugs and gameplay issues and balance issues and whatnot long before it hits release. Particularly if it's of the type "Your character was foobar'd by a bug fixed in the current beta, but you're screwed. Start over." Or you find some way to win too easily, or you're stuck in some impossible battle. I'm sorry, but that just isn't fun.

With work projects, it's typically about getting something *done*. Sure as hell you're willing to help out to make it easier on yourself, and sooner is better. With games, it's about *how* you're getting there, and if I'm busy meddling with bugs instead of enjoying the game, well screw this. This is the future? If so, count me out.

You are WAY off base. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18135982)

First of all, C&B doesn't say to release buggy half implimented shit early. It says to release small, incrimental amounts of working functionality early and often. Building small components into a big system. Games are releasing the entire big system, but every part of it is buggy, broken, and poorly thought out. This doesn't help anyone.

And second, C&B is not seminal, its not even important. Its just more of ESR's pompous, self-aggrandizing bullshit. Neither of the models he describes are common in the real world, and a bazaar model doesn't represent open source at all. Almost all open source porjects (especially successful ones) have a small group of core developers who decide what is good, what is not, do most of the work, etc. There's no bazaar involved.

Third, the release early, release often model doesn't work for many types of products. Games are one such product. Nobody wants to play "log in and chat" until the "you can walk around now" part is done, until the "we added running" part is done, etc, etc. Games need strong development and design staff to ensure a quality product is produced and then released. You can't have a shit team and then rely on your users to do your work for you as ESR and friends suggest.

Re:Why does this sound familiar? (1)

Madpony (935423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18137100)

There are many others... ultimately this is an extremely good move for the industry and we should be very glad of it. Perhaps with this the games industry will finally move towards the "software as a service/continuously updated product" model that is spreading far and wide in the rest of the software and meatspace industry.

What MMORPG doesn't take this view point, though? All MMORPGs that I've seen consistently release patches to fix issues and add new content. Successful ones put out expansions to add a whole lot of new content to maintain interest in the product. I think the problem here is that if your initial product is not working, then don't release it yet. If you have major scope creep occuring on your game project, then move a bunch of features to "Phase 2" and release an overall solid and working but lesser product as "Phase 1".

I think somebody hit the nail on the head here earlier - Game developers seem to be all about adding new things, and less about fixing and refining the existing code. If your existing code needs a lot of QA, debugging, and patching, then focus on that for a while and shut off the new feature floodgate until you can get your head above water.

Re:Why does this sound familiar? (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 7 years ago | (#18143180)

I think this can work with an extended open beta phase.

The typical open source project can be downloaded and tried out for free, games developers that expect their customers to do their testing for them should do the same. And you still have to release something playable, otherwise people will get frustrated enough to quit even if it is free.

In practice, some development shops do this. I got into the Auto Assault beta, played the game for a few months and helped to find the bugs. While I did finally NOT buy the game as the gameplay was too shallow for my taste, I think it was reasonably mature on the technical side when released. Well done, NetDevil.
Other companies think they can get away with charging for a beta product, and the makers of Vanguard seem to fall in this category. I don't have much symphaty for that.
 

Re:Why does this sound familiar? (1)

Ponzicar (861589) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132360)

Hell, that's describing half of all software released these days.

The alternative sucks worse. (2, Interesting)

Cecil (37810) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131800)

There have been several cases where an eagerly anticipated game ran out of capital before it was "finished" and so it simply got canned. That sucks too. I would rather have a buggy release where I *can* buy it and as such hopefully fund some future patches, eventually resulting in a complete game. Worst case scenario at least there is a possibility that the community can come up with an unofficial patch.

So no, it's not really a very bad precedent at all as far as I'm concerned.

Re:The alternative sucks worse. (2, Insightful)

SB5 (165464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132084)

Community come up with an unofficial patch? You know we are talking MMO's here, that means you connect to one of the game company's servers and pay a monthly fee, and must use their patches.

Your idea of of buying it will fund future patches is also faulty. That money goes directly to paying the current debt, and any money left over goes to the investors, and they MIGHT think about reinvesting it back into the project but would you want to depend on that all the time?

Worst case scenario is you end up with a story like Star Wars Galaxies, which is a story in and of itself.

that is a very difficult call (2, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133534)

One of the problem with the games that folded before release is that everyone involved can play "what release would have been like" with impunity. Too many developers promise the world and then get crushed trying to deliver it. Some suffer feature creep as the go along forever not finishing the game as intended simply because they cannot stay focues.

Its probably best they do not release, if the developer cannot be realistic before release how can we expect them to be so after? I have been in games where bugs went unchecked for a long time because the developer kept adding features. Instead of fixing what was there they got caught in the trap of new stuff is fun, who wants to work on old code.

There have a been a few games which I think were just tossed out there to see what response would be. Its easy to throw together a bunch of mock ups, its even easier to put up a webpage of things your game will have, getting it all delivered is a whole 'nuther story.

Re:The alternative sucks worse. (1)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18134154)

Yeah, but what sane gamer wants to actually play a Pavlovian - er, I mean, Brad McQuaidian - 'game'? Much less pay to beta test it so it 'might' get better? The guy has about the same game design skills as what they shovel out of the elephant pen at the local zoo.

Release month 1 of Anarchy Online (4, Funny)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131842)

"Hello, Game master. I can't zone out of the starter area, and the mobs are mocking me."

Setting precedent? (2, Informative)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131852)

In Elysium's mind, this sets up a really, really bad precedent:

The precedent has already been set. Microsoft, Sony (and I'm thinking EQ expansions here more than PS3), whoever released NWN2...I'm sure there's more but I don't want to bother google searching for this junk. Only company that bothers to release stuff as best they can is Valve I think.

The whole plan is 'release now, patch later.' Patches are too ingrained in the norm these days. Heck, people practically EXPECT patches. If a company didn't release patches, people would begin to think they're leaving their product unsecure or something. Catch-22. Blame the public for accepting patches.

Re:Setting precedent? (2, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132514)

If a company didn't release patches, people would begin to think they're leaving their product unsecure or something.

Or just out of date. And they'd be right; for one thing, Vista breaks games.

No, the model you want to look for is id software. Game works flawlessly out of the box, only problem is they can take awhile on their Linux/Mac binaries. Once released, they patch it, and patch it, and patch it, until they don't want to patch it anymore and just release the source, so we can keep it rolling.

Patches are a good thing. Relying on patches to fix your fuckups is a bad thing. But there's a big difference between something that's essentially alpha or beta that they expect to patch to release quality, and something that's release candidate quality (think Linux RCs, not Vista RCs), or actual release quality, works pretty much all the time, pretty much anywhere, but it'd still be pretty cool of them to, say, release a patch to support my old Matrox card, or better support my new 64-bit processor.

You forgot 3drealms (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133968)

"Only company that bothers to release stuff as best they can is Valve I think."

When Duke Nukem Forever comes out, it will be so perfect that it will require negative patches to scale back the brilliance.

Mod parent up! (1)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139672)

I lol'd.

Post of the day.

Swi

Re:Setting precedent? (2, Informative)

Swift(void) (655825) | more than 7 years ago | (#18134264)

Only company that bothers to release stuff as best they can is Valve I think.
It is almost offensive that you did not name Bioware along side Valve. There is barely a game they release that is not top notch and highly polished.

Re:Setting precedent? (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18136554)

(and I'm thinking EQ expansions here more than PS3)
EQ expansion 'problems' were entirely intentional. When Runes of Kunark was released, they made everything drop desirable items at intense rates. Their online store was also 'broken' such that you couldn't just buy the expansion pack. However, you *could* buy the full game + expansion pack combo. Within a few weeks, the store was fixed such that the expansion pack was once again for sale by itself, and everything stopped dropping such good items. Bait and switch if I've ever seen it.

What's to care about? (3, Interesting)

RichPowers (998637) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131878)

Every Vanguard preview indicates that it's the same old stuff we've seen for years - high fantasy, level grinding, questing. The screenshots look dull and uninspired. The plastic player models convey zero personality. In other words, the game will have a small fanbase but it's not going anywhere. And no, I haven't played the game because nothing about it sounds compelling. Why should I settle for a second-rate product when I have WoW, GW, or even EQII to choose from in the "fantasy/MMORPG/questing" genre? And frankly, you need a damn good product to sway people away from WoW or whatever. You're asking them to give up their time investment and spend hundreds of hours in your gaming world. Or you could innovate and create an MMO for people like me who hate the current crop of MMOs :P I read Vanguard's forums since early development and the devs had some awesome ideas. They just failed miserably in the execution. As my friend said when I showed him some Vanguard screenshots/previews: "Don't they already have 5 games just like this?"

Re:What's to care about? (2, Insightful)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133634)

So in other words, you haven't tried it, you have only seen some screenshots you didn't like the look of, and you are already a fan of WOW so why should you switch? And from this you draw the conclusion that no one should switch or consider playing the game. Just how subjective can a person be?

In fact, Vanguard has massive potential. Yes, its buggy and incomplete - but every single MMORPG released that I can recall has been buggy and missing some content at release. The fact is that these projects are so large scale and require so much development time that its inevitable that something will go wrong, something will be missing, something won't scale effectively, or it will need more work. Contents will change during the course of gameplay - so says the warning on all of them, and for good reason. If the game was complete at release, players would play it, finish exploring it, and move on. Things *have to change* and have to evolve to keep the players involved in the game and its progress. Things have to be added, expaded, altered, to maintain a level of interest. A completed game design, is a dead game.

Dark Age of Camelot had a pretty smooth release, I was there and I enjoyed it immensely. Yes it needed work, yes the changes they made to it thereafter generally betrayed the original design concept and the game steadily evolved downhill (in my opinion at least). However, if Mythic had had to wait until everything was perfect, they would never have released the game. Its been 5 years and they are still making changes, adding expansions, and changing the class balance. MMORPGs are *never* finished. By definition they will constantly evolve. There are simply too many factors in any such game to possibly allow for all possible permutations of the code and design, to allow for all the possible misuses/abuses/exploits that players will discover and take advantage of - usually to the gross disadvantage of the game. DAOC was more or less designed to address the most common complaints of EQ players at the time - and to introduce large scale PvP in the form of Realm vs Realm combat. It was immensely successful in every regard. I was an EQ player (yes I play a lot of MMORPGs), and I switched immediately based on feedback I got from a coworker who was in the beta.

SWG was buggy as hell at release, and in fact on the first day you couldn't even log in at all. I was there and dutifully attempted to log in for a few hours, but was unsuccessful until the following evening. The game was missing a lot of its details, but the overall design was innovative and ambitious. Its player-based economy was the most ambitious element of any MMORPG I have seen I think, and I played primarily as a crafter for the first 2 years I played the game. SOE couldn't manage the game design and improvements well enough and the game has devolved sadly since. In its current iteration its a pale shadow of its former glory and all of the innovations have effectively been lost by inept designers making moronic changes. Its the text book example of how NOT to evolve a game, particularly one with such a huge provenance.

City of Heroes and City of Villains had a fantastic release, virtually bug free. It still took a long time to get a design that was more or less balanced. I was there too at release, and enjoyed playing the game at all levels - and I still play it now and again. Cryptic are the unsung heroes of MMORPG game design, their game is a niche game admittedly, but its extremely well designed, very stable, well written and quite enjoyable if you like the niche it fills. Overall I think its the best piece of game coding - possibly the best piece of coding period - that I have ever seen. Nonetheless, both versions have required constant updates and changes - because the players continue to find ways to exploit design flaws, and the designers must allow for that and make suitable changes to ensure the gameplay runs the way it was intended to originally. Its still an immensely enjoyable game and I recommend anyone who hasn't tried it give a shot - unless you are a hardcore PvPer who lives only to grief others. You won't enjoy it then. But if you are looking for a great casual game that you can jump into for 20 mins and feel like you accomplished something, COH or COV may be your ticket. A bit grindy at higher levels but its all fun IMHO.

World of Warcraft has gotten tons of hype, and is an immensely successful product. Its now apparently set the standard for MMORPG design, and every game that comes out is automatically compared to it. However, its not without its flaws. Release was painful, although the game worked, Blizzard was a victim of their own success and marketing, and the resulting queues to log in caused a lot of player frustration. I was there in beta and for release, and quite frankly by the time I got more familiar with the game I was completely unimpressed. WOW it seemed was nothing more than MMORPGs on easy mode. I found it dull, grindy, loot-whore oriented, and a massive time sink. It lacked Collision detection (something I was very used to from COH and COV), the combat was lifeless and boring, characters are very similar with only minor differences other than equipment, and crafting was tied to combat level. The artwork was pretty decent if you could accept it for what it was (some were turned off by the cartoon appearance). Its not a game for roleplayers though in my opinion - far too many anachronistic references etc (Elves dance like Michael Jackson, Trolls sound like Jamaican Stoners, Orcs Breakdance etc). That sort of popular real world referencing is funny, but as a roleplayer its not really my thing and it quickly got tiring. Many classes were overpowered at release and a lot of patching was required. The end game raiding - based no doubt on EQ raiding - could take hours and hours of time and planning, and failed to interest me entirely. The last thing I need is another massive time sink. I am not alone in this by the way, my entire guild of gameplaying friends tried it out with me, and of the 14 or so who gave it a shot, only 2 stayed.

Remember, the massive success of WOW was due to a few different factors I think. First off, Blizzard was already known for high quality and enjoyable games. Diablo, Diablo 2, Warcrafts I, II and III, Starcraft - all excellent titles. This allowed Blizzard to suck a lot of MMORPG virgins into the market in a way that no other software company could possibly manage. Each of those titles was a massive success in its own right - building on those successes and customer loyalty is what has made WOW the huge success it is. Of course the game - login queues aside - is very well designed. Its a regurgitation of all the essential elements of games that preceeded it, wrapped up in a nice cartoony package and calculated to encourage addiction. If it has a fault in my opinion, its that its too easy (very little penalty for failure), its too grindy (and the BC expansion added even more levels), too loot-oriented (requiring endless hours of camping to get the right item, endless hours of faction grinding to access some locations, and the end-game PvP seemed to lack a point to me (Unlike DAOC which had a clear point and focus to its RvR, even if it was plagued with other problems and imbalances).

Now, back to the topic at hand, Vanguard has some faults I admit. It also has a lot of innovative ideas - although you wouldn't have seen any of them because you didn't actually play the game to form your opinion, you simply formed it based (evidently) on the criteria of "I don't like the artwork" and "its now World of Warcraft". Vanguard proposes to have a purposeful endgame, its built to be *hard* by design. It may end up being grindy - it seemed so when I tested it - but its a solid title with a lot of potential. The Diplomacy game element, the unique and skill requiring crafting system, the good solid mission system, the differentiated cultures, all seem quite well designed, and I think its a mistake to just write it off. I think Vanguard was designed to appeal to WOW players who are looking for something more, something with a higher challenge rating so to speak, something which takes effort and perhaps even some skill to be successful in.

However, that said, I did elect to NOT play it after playing it in beta. Right at the time it was released, Lord of the Rings Online went into closed beta, and my wife got admitted to it (although I was not, grr). Having seen that game, I realised it is far superior and more enjoyable to play - at least for me and my friends. I am now in the Stress Test Beta (open this weekend) and enjoying it about as much as I did DAOC when it was released. It too is ambitious and it seems to be living up to the tremendous provenance of the LOTR millieu. Its not for everyone, but its a very pretty, and quite enjoyable game if you like the setting and are happy playing a (mostly) PvE game. As well, Vanguard had massive hardware requirements that my system didn't meet (essentially if you aren't running a dual core something with a top end graphics card, Vanguard will seem slow and not so attractive graphically). That is a major stroke against it of course, as no one should feel *required* to upgrade their PC just to play a game - it might be worthwhile, but it shouldn't be necessary. Screenshots taken on a top end system though are some of the most beautiful game shots I have seen. Of course I believe it was built using the Unreal Engine so that helps immensely, although I could be wrong.

This is of course the year of MMOPRG releases. Next up we have Age of Conan and Pirates of the Burning Sea coming sometime this year. I am interested in both, although particularly POTBS which I have been following for a while on their website. Both have tremendous potential, both are PvP oriented and both seem to be well designed and ambitious. I am not sure if Conan can tear me away from LOTRO, but Pirates is a definite one to try for me.

The Next Big Thing though will be Warhammer Online I think. Its being produced by Mythic who made DAOC, and I think it will be well received. The game design builds on their RvR concept and addresses a lot of the problems that DAOC had with balance and leveling from all I have read. It too has a massive gaming provenance - given 20 year of Warhammer both as a pen and paper RPG, and table top miniatures system etc. It is definitely being built to be the "WOW killer" I think, and we shall see how successful it is. Either it will do well at first, or it will do exceedingly well - probably depending on how much hype they can generate over it. EA is a big name in gaming and can probably pull a lot of people into the game that might not have had exposure to MMORPGs otherwise, and thus they may have the potential to refine the genre just as Blizzard did.

Re:What's to care about? (2, Interesting)

Sage Gaspar (688563) | more than 7 years ago | (#18135350)

The draw of Vanguard is that they built a compelling fantasy world first and then put a game around it. In EQ2 or WoW (and I'm guessing GW) every area is crafted to maximize gameplay, which leads to some very artificial feeling areas. Vanguard also has some of the deepest dungeons I've seen in any MMO liberally scattered across the countryside and a lot of things for you to find just exploring. If you don't care about this sort of thing then Vanguard doesn't really have much more to offer you than any of the other things unless you like its gameplay or its "challenge" (length of grind, which is more of an e-peen thing).

Re:What's to care about? (3, Interesting)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139068)

WoW, GW, or even EQII

Having played all three, and the original Everquest for most of the eight years of its existance (I've been flaky the past couple... I'm now a married man with children) I will say that Vanguard has potential that none of these games have. It beats EQ2 (a lot of reviewers call Vanguard "EQ3"). Comparing it to WoW is a joke. Social interaction is much improved over any MMO I've ever played. Diplomacy is a great and interesting feature that is a game within itself. The crafting of homes and massive ships is beyond what most MMO's have promised, much less delivered.

Only reason I'm not playing it is I'm expecing my second son in a few weeks. I played the beta and enjoyed it thoroughly. I've let my other subscriptions lapse. When I have time again, I'll definitely pick up a copy.

Some MMOs change totally after launch (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131922)

One MMO that came out around the same time WoW did was Everquest 2. At the time, it had its own issues, but it had time to mature, it had a few big expansions, and a couple mini adventure packs (which are worth the $5 or so for the time having fun playing them.)

I took up EQ2 a couple months ago (after just burning out of WoW), and have been extremely pleased with the UI, the playing style, the graphics, pretty much everything in the game. I almost say that EQ2 is EQ2.5, because of all the major positive work that has been done to it since it launched. For those that are not into WoW, its worth a look.

MMOs are games that are designed to be patched, content added, stuff modified, and old stuff overhauled every so often, so don't judge Vanguard for goot yet. Give it a thumbs up/thumbs down after six months or a year, after it had a major content patch or an expansion. Its common (but foolish) for players to hop on a MMO either in its public beta phase or at launch, scream about its faults and move back to their old MMOs. Just consider it a "gamma" release until the game is about a year old.

Re:Some MMOs change totally after launch (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132524)

In that case, they should call it an open beta and not charge us for it. Or call it a closed beta and charge us, whatever.

As TFA says, we are customers, not investors, and we should expect to be treated as such. So if everyone took your advice, Vanguard would be dead. Which means that if I do check it out in six months, and buy it (which I might), I will essentially be buying a game that's funded by idiots.

I don't have a problem with it being funded by idiots, but I would much rather games be released whole and complete, so expansions can just be new, cool stuff.

SOE (1)

bigbadwlf (304883) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131954)

After the way SOE butchered SWG, I'll pass.

Trend? (1)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132006)

Sony does seem to have a problem with releasing products too soon and not finished enough...

Re:Trend? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18135134)

I think you missed something. SoE bailed them out after Sigil had run through all its money. But, the game needed to be released, and soon.

V:SoH suffered more from dumb management listening to its alpha reviewers and forum members screaming for UO stupidity + EQ1 difficulty, and then added more grind for spicing. And towards the end, it started to scale all that crap back, because neither Microsoft nor SoE wanted a game that nobody would play but a select few.

WoW broke the market open and made companies see that settling for a game that 50,000 folks are playing is crap. Now they want to hit much higher numbers, and the road V:SoH was heading down, it would never sustain even that many. Now, they may get higher then that, but unless they lighten it up and make it more casual player friendly, expect to see the game fall by the wayside in 2yrs.

Not news. (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132008)

This has basically been SOP for many MMOGs, especially the ones that come out of Sony/Verant's stable. Asheron's Call 2, Anarchy Online, Everquest several times over the years, Star Wars Galaxies... If the players are lucky, the developers will admit that things need to be fixed and will actually work to fix them. If they're not, then they'll get to sit back and be told that 'X is working as intended', where X might be the Plane of Mischief, the Sleeper's Tomb, unlocking a new race for play, or the ability to smuggle contraband.

From one perspective, unfinished content or wonky mechanics might be considered acceptable: no plan survives contact with the enemy, and only long-term exposure to players will reveal flaws that need correcting. Unfortunately, timelines for fixes and adding content rarely survive contact with the players either-- dedicated groups of players are notorious for blazing through content at staggering speeds, and just as notorious for raising six kinds of Hell when they find the equivalent of an animated 'under construction' gif in place of their endgame content.

THIS sets a bad precedent? (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132038)

Sony Online Entertainment saved the game from bankruptcy, and released it when the schedule said to and not a moment later. In Elysium's mind, this sets up a really, really bad precedent
I can't imagine it was any worse than SWG, pretty much everything was broken at launch. MMO's have notoriously launched in a less than stable state (to say the least). The dev post on the SWG beta boards in response to the beta tester outcry when the launch date was announced, was something to the effect of "the game is in a state comparable to other MMOs at launch."

Sets a precedent? (1)

Evro (18923) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132076)

How does this set any kind of precedent? It's certainly not the first MMO to ship before it's bug-free, or even feature-complete. Sony has a long history of releasing EQ expansions when they're ~50% complete, banking on it taking players N months to get to that point. This Anarchy Online review [somethingawful.com] shows that it too fell victim to being pushed out the door well before its time. The only MMO game I've seen that was significantly complete at almost every step of the way has been WoW.

It's sad too... (5, Interesting)

Lonin (876821) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132112)

It's kind of sad to me, and a few others I know because this didn't have to happen. Sigil spent a LOT of money on Vanguard, not WoW money, but more than pretty much any other MMO out at the moment besides EQ2. Not only that, but they had lot's of time too, something like 5 years of development time. Unfortunately, they pissed it all away. They just made mistake after mistake that eventually lead to the current state. I was part of the most active guild in beta for a long time and most of us left about 4 months prior to launch even after putting in months of playtime on characters we knew would be deleted. It just became obvious to us, people who had big plans, tons of time and resources invested and really wanted to enjoy the game, that it was just going downhill fast. I really feel sorry for some of the developers and other Sigil employees that we got to know. Most of them joined Sigil because they expected greatness from McQuaid, he was one of the creators of Everquest after all, but instead they got screwed just like everyone else, but more so. It became pretty plain that even the devs were losing hope and enthusiasm for the project, and when that happens the game is doomed. As for Vanguard settings bad precedent, I agree, but not for the same reasons. Like someone else mentioned, MMO's releasing before they finished is nothing new and if anything Vanguard lack of success is going to further show new developers that to release an unfinished MMO these days is essentially suicide. Where I think the bad precedent comes from is that Vanguard was originally being built as the last crack at a "hardcore" MMO. Now that Vanguard is essentially a failure investors will be far less likely to put their money on another "hardcore" style MMO which is really a shame since the style of the game was not why it's failing. I don't know if we'll ever see a mainstream Everquest style MMO again, but I'm sure we're going to see a long line of WoW clones hoping to ride the coattails. Whether you like one style of game or another it's always nice to have more choices. Finally, another important thing to gather from the Vanguard release is that it will most likely be Brad McQuaid's last. He used up every ounce of fanboyism and nostalgia that he gained from Everquest and totally wasted it. He made a lot of big claims and hard-nosed statements concerning Vanguard and didn't deliver on any of them. He's truly eating his words right now as he's basically become a MMO pariah. And frankly, after seeing what he did (and didn't do) with such a promising "Vision" of Vanguard, I say good riddance.

Re:It's sad too... (1)

PhetusPolice (934823) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140508)

I hear you say that it's a failure, but you don't say how, which is really important if you are going to degrade the game like that.

I have a more optimistic approach, and I don't think I am alone http://ctrlaltdel-online.com/news.php?i=1322 [ctrlaltdel-online.com]

So, that said, I don't mind playing an unfinished MMO, because technically they are all unfinished. I see a lot of people complaining at Sigil for releasing the game early. Well, Sigil has been nothing but upfront about needing to release the game in its current state. Vanguard has been in development for four years, and video games are ridiculously expensive to make (they rival movie budgets nowadays, if you didn't know). Money doesn't grow on trees, and while a video game is in development, it's not making any money. So for four years, Sigil operated at a loss. Well, as a business owner myself, I can tell you there's only so long a company can do that before it ceases to exist. So faced with the choice of "release it now, and get some money going the other way, and continue to work on the game" or "the game ceases to exist and the last four years were for nothing", well, I'd make the same decision. Get as much as you can finished and playable, put the game out there, and then continue to build it up. That's an MMO for you.
This game has been out for less than a month! And this reviewer didn't even bother playing it through. I would not trust a book critic if they judged a book by the first few chapters.

I am going to get Vanguard when I get a better computer, so I can run it. If Vanguard does become a success, it will be able to continue for years with its graphics.

What's in a name (4, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132116)

This game was much better 25 years ago when Atari released it.

Re:What's in a name (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132828)

Has it really been a quarter century since my parents bought that game when we first got our Atari 2600? Oh, how I miss blasting Mist Ships, Harley Rockets, Grimeys, and the final boss: the Gond...

Re:What's in a name (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140462)

I pulled that out of my backside, but yes actually it has been. Well, perhaps not for a few months, but the copyright on it was 1982. I miss the Atari, where nearly all of the games were short enough for me to beat before losing interest.

Wow, You're All Under 20, Aren't You? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18132130)

Back in the day of MUDs, most up and coming games would have an open beta period. This would draw a small number of players who liked the concept, wanted to help build a world, and/or wanted to get favors out of existing staff (or become staff themselves.)

Open betas would never draw a 'normal' crowd - because, either a player wipe would happen before the game officially opened (why bother playing yet then?) or in the case of deranged admins, you'd be playing with people who had overpowered, ill-gotten items (sets a tone for what'll happen later, hey?)...

Come opening day, shit would hit the fan no matter how much testing would done. Because suddenly you'd have a lot more people putting a lot more stress on your game. As the game would grow in popularity, this would repeat.

With MUDs, we're talking an average of 40-50 people during the golden age, with some of the larger names pulling in a few hundred.

What's an MMOG like?

How do you possibly test a game in a real world environment when the real world environment requires thousands if not tens of thousands of players?

There's no way. Unless, of course, you want to start hiring people. In which case, you want to see a company run out of funds before a game is ready for launch? That's the way to do it.

At the end of the day, MMOGs are nothing more than MUDs with graphics slapped on top of them. As such, they're eternally in beta.

Didn't SOE learn from Starwars Galaxies and EQ2? (1)

Aereus (1042228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132476)

One has to boggle at the thought of whoever is in charge of calling the shots on when these MMOs are released. Just how many MMOs in a row do they have to rush to market and have fail miserably, before they learn that the short-term money savings just does not at all justify pushing out a beta product? SWG suffered from bad bug-testing methods, incomplete content, and being pushed to market months too early. It's death spiral took longer than usual because of the extreme power of the Starwars name, but any beta tester could tell you it was inevitable from that early week in June when the game was announced "Gold." I can't comment on if EQ2 was rushed to market or not, however from a graphics standpoint it should have also had them learn the lesson that extreme eyecandy in MMOs just doesn't work. It looks nice for screenshots, but having a game that only runs for a small fraction of high-end PCs, and even then only at low-end settings, doesn't make for a subscription base. So now we have Vanguard from SOE -- again released far too soon, and with graphics well above what even high-end machines can handle. (I believe the full install is around 20GB+) SOE isn't just taking a pistol and shooting themselves in the foot -- they've graduated to taking an RPG and firing it straight down...

Re:Didn't SOE learn from Starwars Galaxies and EQ2 (0, Flamebait)

Samari711 (521187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132526)

Sony not learning from past mistakes? I would never imagine that the company that brought us betamax, minidisc, memory sticks, and blu ray would repeatedly release products with the same glaring design flaws.

Re:Didn't SOE learn from Starwars Galaxies and EQ2 (2, Informative)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133192)

Y'know? Betamax is actually a superior technology to VHS. There's a reason it's what TV stations and recording studios have been using until they went digital.... It records better picture quality, and better sound. VHS won out because of marketing.

The rest of that stuff... can't really argue against it. It's all overpriced and mediocre. But I'd like to point out that SOE probably learned from Everquest (the first)... Millions of subscribers paying $13 US/month to beta test it makes a pretty compelling argument in favour of this kind of business model.

Station Access means it doesn't matter. (1)

BarneyL (578636) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133018)

Remember the normal subscription model doesn't entirely apply to Vanguard.

Sony have what they call Station Access (http://station-access.station.sony.com/ [sony.com] ), for $24.99 a user gets a subscription to Vanguard, EQ1, EQ2, Matrix Online, SWG, Planetside and a few others. Sony do not need Vanguard to be a smash hit runaway success, what they need is for a supply of extra games added to the pass so that:
a) people buy the boxed game ("Hey I'm already paying for the pass so why not give Vanguard a go")
b) people subscribed to one Sony MMO pay the $10 extra for the pass to get the extra value (certainly when I was playing EQ2 heavily I found it worth the extra money for Planetside)
c) the stream of new games locks people in to Sony, you are effectively already paying for vanguard and as long as you keep that pass your old EQ1 character stays live in case you want to drop in and play again.

Re:Station Access means it doesn't matter. (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133268)

Indeed. I used to play EQ1 and EQ2, so when Vanguard was released I decided I might as well pay for the station access pass and be able to play all three... so that's $25 a month that Sony wouldn't have got without Vanguard.

Equally, now I'm paying that there's no way I'll be paying more to play any pay-per-month MMOG that isn't SoE, unless I cancel all three games.

Which is a shame given how many bad SoE experiences I've had in the past. Unfortunately they own all the games I've tried that I actually wanted to play.

Don't Forget WoW (3, Insightful)

vjmurphy (190266) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133404)

Let's not forget that World of Warcraft also had its problems: the queue, the general issues in the beginning, etc. It's par for the course with games these days.

I'm a little more concerned about console games needing patches: wasn't the whole idea with console was that they were different from PCs? The same "push it early, then patch" mentality seems to be affecting consoles, too.

Re:Don't Forget WoW (1)

SB5 (165464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18136182)

What exactly do you mean by "General Issues"? Almost everything has "general issues" related to it, and the reason why is because its a nonspecific term. I am sure most things have general issues, especially in the beginning because it takes time to figure out what is expected behavior and what isn't. Can't expect to put together an engine and expect it to run the first time perfectly.

The queue was simply and issue to solve the temporary problem of unexpected demand. Thats a simple logistics issues, you can't just ship brand new spanking supercomputer servers overnight and have them up and running with no problems. You order them, wait awhile and then receive them, assemble, test, and the whole deal.

Now to release a game early because you ran out of funds to continue creating a game is a different story. Its like receiving a webserver for a banking website, and then building the webpage and then just saying we will add security, features, gui, and the like in patches. While leaving the site open to the public, it would be considered totally unprofessional.

Re:Don't Forget WoW (0, Offtopic)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139114)

Well, up to a month ago I know for a fact WoW still had queues on the big servers - my wife sold her account, she wouldn't have it anymore. And it wasn't just queues and temporary problems that WoW had (I played for the first 2 months of WoW's existance...) they didn't have battlegrounds from day 1, or honor, or many of the instances that were supposed to come out of the box. My friends and I, being the relatively hardcore gamers that we are, hit 60 and had nothing to do. They stuck around and rolled more characters, I sold out for a tidy profit. There was nothing to do. They were supposed to have this content ready at launch. And don't forget about the nerfs and class unbalances that should have been fixed in beta (yes, I was in both betas too)

Re:Don't Forget WoW (1)

SB5 (165464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18142870)

Those "issues" all sound like natural problems that happen. Blizzard has offered free server transfers IIRC for those on the crowded servers. I am playing on one of the new servers and have never seen a queue. So they didn't have battlegrounds from day 1, or honor, or many instances. You can't expect to have all content ready for launch. Its better to launch with a system not in the game, then to launch with a system that isn't working 100% and maybe buggy and unbalanced.

Nerfs and class unbalances also happen naturally even Diablo II has patches to this day to balance classes better despite it being released many years ago. Starcraft the same, you cannot have things come out of the box perfectly balanced or you wind up with Warcraft I, both sides exactly the same the graphics are just an ogre instead of a peon. I was in the large beta of WoW and was largely nonplussed about the game. It just didn't seem to interesting.

Take a look at Diablo II, at release it did not have synergies, but in one patch they added this really cool system for people to now use.

In comparison to other MMO's WoW's problems are tiny, and fixable. Don't play on the crowded servers! Voice your opinion on the forums about class balance, worst that can happen is a dev might read it and take a look at the issue you think is there. All content was not ready at launch, and content is added in patches as time goes on, sounds like typical MMO behavior and not really an issue.

But to be perfectly honest, I think the battlegrounds are still not right, they seem thrown together to appease players. On my battleground out of all the times I have played and of all the levels of BG only once or twice have alliance won. What does that mean to me? It means the BG need more work. I think Blizzard should investigate a better solution. (it would be nice to have BG's where no matter what server you play on, you can "find a friend/friends" and play with them or against them!

It is good (1)

wolfing (1007041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133452)

I play Vanguard, it's not bad really, in fact I do like it. It was released too soon, but really, we can say the same thing about 99% of the games out there. The problem with Vanguard, interestingly enough, is that its developers listened to the players too much. Because of user input they kept changing core aspects of the game. Whole classes were redone even 3 days before release date (so much for testing them). With so many changes, they ran out of money and time. Graphically it's awesome, you do need at least 2GB RAM to play it (and let's not forget 21GB free in your hard drive to install it), so this is not your Bejeweled 2. It's a deep and complex game unlike, say, WoW which is its direct competitor. Playing each class (and there are 15 of them) is a different experience. You can solo all the time but for obvious reasons, grouping is better.

Re:It is good (1)

Khanstant (1049112) | more than 7 years ago | (#18135074)

Graphically it's awesome?? No way, that game looks terrible. It's in the middle of EQ and EQII (which looks terrible). It should not take 2GB of RAM to run Vanguard. I'm playing an infinitely better looking MMO right now and it runs great with just 1GB. The characters also don't look like they were modelled and rendered in Poser.

I can't say anything about the gameplay of Vanguard but damn, it is an ugly game.

So, wait... (1)

cthellis (733202) | more than 7 years ago | (#18134220)

Being released early sets a precedent? ...in PC games? ...in MMOG's?

*blinks*

Did this guy wake up from a 20 year coma as of last month?

WoW offends precedence worse (1)

RiskyChris (999242) | more than 7 years ago | (#18134530)

I'm not sure how many of you played WoW from release, but I sure did. I was also in the beta for 5 months prior to release. Off the top of my head, Wow shipped with the following things incomplete:
  • Battlegrounds
  • Raid Instances/Regular Instances missing (MC was the only raid instance we had, and it was poorly implemented compared to modern raids in WoW).
  • Hero classes, never introduced
  • No important PvP system
  • Balance Issues (Most games have this, period, though)
The problem is that WoW shows that even with many problems, it has gone on to be arguably the most financially successful video game of our time. It has what, 8 million subscribers now (minus 1, I quit over a year and a half ago...).
There's no question about it -- WoW sets a much worse precedence than V:SOH.

Re:WoW offends precedence worse (1)

DarkJC (810888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18137564)

The difference is that the remaining of WoW that DID release was rock solid and very polished. I see my friend log on to Vanguard and I don't get that feel at all.

Things that Blizzard held back and implemented later were held back until they matched the polish of the original game. When Battlegrounds came out, they were flawless, along with the newer raid dungeons and instances. Hero classes were never promised for release, and AFAIK it was more of an idea that was thrown out there on the "coming in the future" development webpage. That disappeared at least a year ago.

Honestly if Vanguard felt polished and solid with the stuff they currently had in the game I would not be complaining. The problem is when the core game feels buggy and incomplete, along with features missing, you know that there are problems, and you know that the time it'll take to fix up the core game without even considering adding fresh, new, non-buggy content, may be a lot longer than players are willing to put up with.

It's gameplay, not code, that's broken. (2, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18135118)

When you read the guy's actual review, most of the things he's complaining about are gameplay design decisions, not code defects. He's not complaining about rendering problems or bad collision detection. He's complaining about the plot and dialog being lame, and the terrain and characters being boring.

That's not a "released too early" issue. That's a bad screenplay issue.

Caveat Emptor (1)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#18135174)


The act of releasing rushed and unfinished product on to the marketplace is as ancient as commerce itself.

It doesn't hurt the industry as much as it helps those who have a high standard of production.

The onus is on us, the consumers, to identify and asess quality prior to purchase -- as it has been for millennia.

Anti-review review and game review (0, Redundant)

brendanoconnor (584099) | more than 7 years ago | (#18135714)

This guy openly admits this is not a review, so I can't bash him for obvious bias. With that said, the guy obviously does not like the game, so I really cannot see why he'd take this much time to say so. He slames the game for needed a hefty hardware requirements (even though its a brand new game, therefore may not run on 3 year old hardware, duh), he slames it for having a corpse run penalty, and he finds both combat and the card game (diplomacy) boring. He never looks at crafting.

With all that said, I play vanguard and I will admit now it does lag a bit but then I don't really have an amazing video card. The environments look beautiful to me, much better then EQ2, which I did not care for. One cannot compare it to wow as they are completely different, one goes for realism the other looks kind of cartoony (it still looks awesome though).

The combat is ok. Nothing special but then I wouldn't say it was bad either. The diplomacy is actually a great deal of fun. I thought the story was pretty interesting that was being told in the Wood Elves capital. It did take me a little bit to figure out that the names of the cards ment absolutely nothing but once I "learned" how to play, it was a great deal of fun.

This guy also mentions the complexity of understanding how strong a mob is. Personally, I love it. Once again, he complains about having to "learn" how something works and seems generally annoyed that it doesn't work like EQ or wow.

I haven't tried crafting either but from what I have read it seems fairly complex and likely requiring a little learning. Not a bad thing in my book.

Another thing the guy mentions is the buggyness of the game. Playing right now, I have noticed a couple of bugs, but nothing even remotely resembling a game breaking bug. If anything it hurt the immersion a little bit but thats about it. Also, comparing it to wows release, while wow was a pretty stable game (possibly the most stable) they completely fell flat on their face with server hardware. It took Blizzard well over a year from release to finally get the hardware done right. It took them another year to finally start trying to stop having freaken maintainence every single Tuesday morning, first only being 4 hours, then going to 6. And that was planned downtime, and had nothing to do with unexpected downtime (though blizzard did give free play time so that was cool). Vanguard has always been up and running for me and isn't that laggy. I was even on a UK server from california and was still playing just fine. UK to Cali lag was less in vanguard then Cali to East coast play in wow, and its a brand new game that just hit the market. Wow still couldn't say that.

This game has a slight learning curve but that should keep out some of the riff raff anyway. Overall I like this game and find it a very nice change from wow, which really was EQ lite. It was fun and I enjoyed it, but it was definitely easy mode MMO (why else do you think it has 7 million players).

Re:Anti-review review and game review (2, Informative)

cthellis (733202) | more than 7 years ago | (#18136118)

Oh, there are definitely a lot of bugs in Vanguard:

Some quests are just plain broken.

Items "disappear" from your inventory at random times, which seems to be a form of "virtual stacking" and takes you resorting a lot of items or logging off to clear up.

"Soft-zoning" through chunks can have a lot of effects, ranging from breaking /follow and riding mounts, to shifting you from 3rd-to-1st person, to crashing the game entirely, to "teleporting" you way ahead virtually and getting you attacked by aggro mobs upwards of a kilometer away, to--from what I've heard--reducing you a few levels to a previous save state.

The biggest annoyance is the common tendency for mobs to "teleport" to another area nearby; they are still where they were before, but their model wanders from out of eyesight back to the location. You can still hit it, but it makes targetting between mobs difficult. Mobs "disappear" in this way differently for each person, so you could be fighting one that's always there, but to your companions it has taken off. (Thankfully the "virtual location" does not aggro more mobs.) VERY irritating.


That being said, the game is still very stable, and not out of line with other horribly buggy launches (like Anarchy Online and Asheron's Call 2, as notable examples). It's tightened up pretty well on some fronts, and while it still has a number of issues, it's a solid game.

WoW has a solid launch (but was certainly not brimming with content and all their "promises") and it looks like LotR:O will as well (though it's much more a question of "Why bother?" when sitting side-by-side with WoW), but the "reviewer" is patently nuts if he thinks there's any precedent being set here.

You can make the "released too early" comment about ANY MMO, and if you had your druthers, you'd never play one until it's been out for 6-12 months to shake out bugs, get the biggest balance patching in, and adding some more flesh to the content.


...but where's the fun in that? ;-)

Re:Anti-review review and game review (1)

DarkJC (810888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18137626)

I've always wondered, why the chunking? If anything WoW has proven it's easy to have a seamless world without zone lines (aside from travelling between continents and instancing) so why does Vanguard have chunks?

Re:Anti-review review and game review (2, Informative)

Lonin (876821) | more than 7 years ago | (#18139930)

HA! Both the mob models disappearing and the inventory problems have been around for literally 9 months. These two issues were probably one of the most reported bugs in beta. If that's not a perfect example of the game, I don't know what is.

Re:Anti-review review and game review (1)

cthellis (733202) | more than 7 years ago | (#18143620)

You mean the perfect model of a PC game? One with bugs that stick around for a while? OH NOES!

Even tons of RTSes have dumb bugs and incorrect design that sticks around for ages, and they're far less complicated that a MMORPG. So long as the bugs themselves aren't terrifyingly life-threatening or permimant, it's just a part of life.

I see the inventory bug far less than I did it beta (maybe once a week I'll have an issue that can be cleared up with a quick logout), so they seem to be on top of it, and it's not a big deal. Mob "popping" has been cut down as well (though now I see more "players disappearing when they have levitate on" ;-) ), and--as previously stated--merely requires a quick backstep to clear up and doesn't train other mobs in (so it's just a weird modelling quirk and a targetting annoyance).

The game will have more show up and the game will have more taken care of; such is life in a MMO. In many ways it's this "breathing" quality that entertains the subscribers, and even the more irritating bugs end up being fun stories of flavor to talk about years down the line. ;-) (My friend still laughs at getting stuck on an ogre's back in EQ for 10 seconds or so and taking 10,000 points of falling damage when he finally slid off. :-D )

Meanwhile, let me write in my little black book that a PC game has bugs that stick around for a while. I'm sure someone, SOMEWHERE will be shocked.

Vanguard is a good game (1)

AlexDaGreat (1014903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18136146)

I downloaded Vanguard when it was released and to me it's a very well done MMORPG. I haven't experenced issues with the playability of the game and the graphics are better than any other RPG that I've played (mainly EQ2, NWN 1&2, with some WoW). The addition of Diplomacy has been a fun angle to the RPG side of the game that allows folks who want to have a sideline other than adventuring do something other than crafting. I'm playing it on a high end machine that I built up this summer for playing games (AMD 64x2, SLI 7900's, 2 GB RAM, etc.) and I realize that this may mask many of the issues that folk are having but I have little to no complaints about it and think the game it's release state was very playable and very fun. I'm eager to find out what the rest of the gaming world of Vanguard has to offer. Also I strongly agree, this is not a new situation. I think the good thing about PC games is that they can be fixed/ehnanced/modified over time to give more value than the typical console approach. When I think about one of my favorite PC games to come out in the last few years Half-Life 2, folks complained at the lack of Half-Life style multiplayer vs. Counter Strike Source. It was added shortly after release and folks stopped complaining. Folks complained about the number of maps for CS, more came later. Valve continued to add to the core HL2 platform with technologies highlighted by the Lost Coast demo. The good PC game companies continue to fix and enhance their products over time and I think Sigil has already demonstrated that they are on the same path that others have followed.

Investors (1)

gamerdave (757845) | more than 7 years ago | (#18140032)

"Let me put it bluntly, if a game is not ready for retail when the money runs out find another investor or shut the doors."

And I bet you'd find lots of willing investors on this premise! Your pitch could go something like this....

"Ya I'm making the world's greatest MMORPG, but I need $20-$40 million or more to do it, and it may take 3 years or more, and if it isn't perfect by then I could need another year or two, or longer, and another $20-$40 million or more, and if you don't give it to me I'll try to find another investor, but if I can't we'll just shut the whole thing down and take our losses."

Who could turn down an offer like that?

If you can't afford to fund the development yourself, you're going to have to work within time constraints, just like every other business. Very few game developers have the kind of money it takes to make a good MMORPG, so they typically rely on publishers and outside investors, who, quite naturally, set conditions. I doubt this will change anytime soon, unless games suddenly get a whole lot cheaper to make.

Hows is this different from other SOE games? (1)

blumpy (84889) | more than 7 years ago | (#18141076)

Look at SWG, 3.5 years later it's still not complete.

What hasn't been said already? (1)

Darniaq (738858) | more than 7 years ago | (#18142520)

I'd like to know what about this article hasn't been said countless times already since every prior MMO (both before and after the coining of that term) that has come before.

Seriously, we need new rants, and VG is not rant-worthy. Nobody expected more of it than it delivered, and anyone who was following the development knew it was being designed for the other type of player that quit EQ1, the type that didn't think the game was hard enough .

VG does not set a bad precedent because it was never going to have any lasting effect on the genre. The entire concept of it was niche. And they were forced to launch at the absolute worst time to launch a non-IP-based MMO without a really big following. I don't think they were destined for failure. I'm hoping they have enough accounts to stay profitable. But I also don't think VG is going to change how anyone does anything in this genre because at it's heart, it's a five year old design.

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