Vanguard – Feelings of Missing Something

The Ancient Gaming Noob has an amazing write up  and that for many, Vanguard wasn’t much but a failed blip on the radar. For others, it was a dream, a vision, a job (that may or may not have ended in a parking lot), a failed save by SOE. It is part, all, and none of those things – depending on who you asked. I was surprised to learn not too long ago that Bhagpuss has Vanguard as one of his favorites – and reading through the other links at the TAGN article it was an awful lot to many people. Somehow, now I feel I missed out. Much like this “goodbye Vanguard” post, just a little too late.

Vanguard was originally a dream for me. As an EQ pioneer (alpha test, beta test, EQ guide) I soured on EQ because I solely played on the test server. When they wiped it on us many left, and that was the end of the magic of that community. MMO communities were pretty tight back then – partly because there weren’t many of them (or many of US on them..) but the testserver population was even more so tight. We needed each other. Everyone knew the major guilds, everyone knew the major gamers, because there were so few – and Norrath was a dangerous world to be alone in. You couldn’t be. We weren’t.

When things started changing and people leaving and guilds merging (as mentioned before – a few of us are still on our original EQ test guild boards – they somehow still exist, and a handful of us visit now and again) the EQ world changed for me. I tried to start over on live servers but getting to level 50 was so hard to begin with. Starting again? No way. I began to be bitter about the things in the game that drove us to need one another (grind, loss of xp on death, loss of items after 24 hours of death – this happened to me once.) and when I quit EQ I wasn’t happy with EQ. Odd now, how much I miss it. (The original “it”. The new it I still visit with all of it’s newfound glory and mercenaries!)

Thankfully for me Dark Ages of Camelot had launched and I promptly joined the testserver there (Pendragon) and quickly formed a guild (Legends) with other testserverites – and Legends became the leader of the Midgard Guild Alliance. It was awesome! I ended up being the Shadowblade TeamLead for a stint too. The PVP meant we needed each other even more but the magic of testserver communities was put under pressure there. Not enough people to test the content the devs wanted. ToA launched to PVE grind away our PVP magic and opening up the testserver to auto-levelled max levelled characters (they did let us transfer off) ruined the game for us as well. Couldn’t find the same magic on live servers. I knew all of my enemies in DAOC and that part made the game so fascinating. (Zarbix is out  – watch out!)

Some went to WoW, some went to EQ 2. I brief-stinted EQ 2 on their testserver but didn’t get hooked. WoW is where I did, and first found, and then built, a community there on a live server. Then Vanguard was announced.

Vanguard for me was the opportunity to recapture the magic that EQ was. WoW was “great” but instancing and other things took away some fundamentals I felt were important to community. I still stand by those, with the way the WoW community has evolved, but I don’t really blame them – its the scale that got in the way.  There were high hopes for Vanguard. I had high hopes for Vanguard.

The first cracks of disappointment were in beta – loved the blood mage, struggled with the PC specs, but the world was huge and wondrous. I didn’t buy because my chugging PC couldn’t handle it. That, and the comments and reviews of the game from people I trusted drove me away. I did try to pop back in when it went F2P but had little patience with it and it just felt off. I regret that now.

So I am left with the feeling that another world is lost that I would never see. Isn’t that a funny feeling? The game, the world was there for so long but I didn’t give it the time. Visiting this blog (through TAGN)  has so many pictures of the world and I wonder what exactly was the point of the Strange tower ruins near Drathel, in Plains of Anguish in the level 45-50 section. Who built them? What mobs where nearby? I wonder if that is an MMO way of looking at a screenshot – wondering how I would interact with it if my character was there.

I find it fascinating those who stay to the end, until the plug is pulled. Is it beside manner? Last grasps? A group of connected people enjoying what they can, while they can? From my experience, when the experience is gone it is really gone. Thankfully that is what memories are for. I probably would have the same.

A MMO being shut down – a world “sunsetted” is much like a famous TV show being cancelled. Whether it is Cheers, or Seinfeld, or a CSI knockoff that lasts 8 episodes – the fans of the show, new or old, always have strong feelings. The difference with shows is that they syndicate or you can buy the DVD boxed set. When a MMO world is gone it is a missed opportunity to enjoy something built by people, enjoyed by thousands, and loved by many.

Maybe I wouldn’t have enjoyed Vanguard but I didn’t give it the chance – and maybe developers need to deserve that chance more. Or perhaps, just maybe, I needed to be more patient and give it a bit more time when it had the time. I’ll be more cautious of that in the future.

Thankfully, we have EQ and the Simpsons that just seem to run forever.

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. You and I seem to have had a very similar history but a completely different experience. I think you know some of this because I mention it often enough, but in short-form: after trying a couple of servers (Prexus, Brell Serilis) I settled on Test, which was where I first got a character out of the teens. I would have stayed there but then The Great Wipe happened. After that mess was sorted out I took offer of a free transfer and my necro moved to Lanys T’Vyl.

    Flash forward and I’m playing DAOC. I played on a Live server for a while but eventually took the option to copy and play on Test. By that time I was already about done with DAOC though.

    Flash forward to EQ2. We were in from beta3 (I think it was, September 2004) and we planned on going to the Test server at launch but Test wasn’t available for a few weeks so we went to Steamfont instead. We rolled characters on EQ2 Test when it appeared but didn’t play there much before we left EQ2 and went back to EQ. We ignored our old characters and restarted on Stromm, where we had a great run. That’s where I mostly still play.

    Then when Scott Hartsman saved EQ2 we came back. We played at first on the merged Steamfont/Oasis but since no-one we knew played there any more we re-rolled on Test, where we stayed for five wonderful, anarchic, soap-opera years until SOE decided to create the F2P experiment on a new server, Freeport. We went there to try it out and never went back although we remain in the cross-server Test chat channel.

    Along the way Vanguard launched and we played that from Beta 4 onwards. We had a fantastic run there, then went back to EQ2, then back to Vanguard for another great run.

    Basically, I have never fallen out of love with either EQ or Vanguard. I have been infuriated, angry and hopping mad with both of them at various times but I never, ever lost one iota of affection for them. EQ2 I did fall out of love with. In fact, until Scott Hartsman fixed it, I didn’t actually like it all that much. I also fell out with it quite badly during the Kunark expansion (which I now absolutely love), to the point of going back to EQ again (or Vanguard or somewhere – I forget the exact order but we left EQ2, I know that).

    I’m not sure anyone could pick up Vanguard at this late stage and really fall in love with it but don’t despair of the possibility. I was on the emulator last night and I have great hope for the project. It’s entirely possible the people behind that might end up making a better Telon than either Sigil or SOE managed. Might take them a decade but I’ll wait.

    1. Amazing. I didn’t realize you had spent so much time in and around test servers! Glad to learn that about you and our paths were pretty similar. EQ2 didn’t grab me (and I don’t expect it to go anywhere..) but I a definitely going to go give it another whirl. Hard not to at F2P and with my EQ love will be interesting to experience.

      Thanks for the comment – great learning more about your journey =)

      If Vanguard gets back, in any form, I will go give it a try as well.

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