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.