August 28, 2007
Time to sweep out my brain. This entry is my dustpan, hold on to your butts.
Above: Tawar Galan; Floating Islands in the background.
– My daughter and I saw at least 5 broad-tailed hawks circling over our house today, so I think we saw a kettle (name for a group of hawks) migrating south. We’ve seen and heard them on and off all summer. I love hearing their call, and then trying to figure out where the heck they are. Two from the group today dove down and sat on a tree right in our yard. I’d like to think it was because of my awesome bird call skills, but my daughter insists it was the green popsicle she had that attracted them. Whatever!
– After this week, I’m shifting gears a bit with the site to devote it to 9/11. I participated in a blogger tribute last year, and will do the same again this year, along with a few other entries. Despite the enormous turnout of bloggers that participated last year through the 2,996 project, not everyone got a tribute, so I plan to do another one this year. I’ll move gaming stuff off the front page temporarily, but you can still reach it from the sidebar links and the search box.
– I’m also taking the plunge into the world of podcasting. Virginworlds, which has its finger on the pulse of MMO scuttlebutt, has recently added several new shows to their Podcast Collective. I’m going to be on the next episode of “Shut up We’re Talking,” hosted by Darren from The Common Sense Gamer, and Adele Caelia. I’m just an ordinary gamer with itchy typing fingers, so I feel a little out of my element, but I love to talk gaming, and looking forward to doing that in the upcoming show.
Above: Spires Keep in Thestra.
– I said goodbye to Thunderaxe yesterday, and today I’m ready to meet new faces on our newly merged server, Xeth. Vanguard is doing their server merges this week, and we’re first in the line up. I’m excited about it, but at the same time, I’ll miss the good old days. I know people complained about empty servers, but to me, it was the closest we ever got to having a true, medieval, roleplaying environment. Dwindling population? Sparse cities and towns? Shattered economy? Welcome to the 1300s! At least we didn’t have a plague……
– World of Warcraft is a monstrous hit because it’s escapist fantasy that doesn’t cross the line into nerdy roleplaying D&D style fantasy. (I told you to hold onto your butts!)
Think about the titles of these games – Everquest (Everwhat? The hell?), Vanguard: Saga of Heroes CouldmytitlegetanylongerIdonotknow, Lord of the Rings Online (good movie but most people don’t readily admit they like hobbits and Tom Bombadil), and World of Warcraft (WOW!). Knowing nothing else about these games, which would you choose? And which would you publically admit to playing?
World of Warcraft has some traditional D&D style races, classes, and gameplay, but it also contains many items that appeal to a broader variety of people (bombs, guns, sheep mez), and it is chock full of mainstream pop culture references to appeal to the masses. You can safely tell others that you play WoW and not feel a certain stigma attached. Yes, I know it’s a little out there, but the fact that WoW embraces current culture, rather than shuns it, really is a factor in why it’s so popular, both here and overseas. No really!
– What’s the point of having MMOs with bags and bags of junk that you have to lug around? Why not have it be a simple drop down menu listing that’s searchable in multiple ways. Purists may argue that it removes the sense of realism from the game, but give me a break. I’m currently carrying 380 logs, 1k slabs of ore, a camel, two sloops, and a caravel in my backpacks. Not.very.realistic. Besides, the best reason to menu it is so that my husband will stop his constant diatribes on the subject any time he has to spend more than 10 seconds searching for a particular item.
Above: Map room in Pankor Zhi. I swear the map on the left is the same one from “Time Bandits.”
– Lastly, I wanted to thank those who had recently posted comments on my blog. (Shaylyn, nice to see you stop by and congrats again on the TTH promotion!) I’m lousy with responding, and I apologize. I really appreciate the feedback I’ve gotten on this site and in game. It’s unexpected, and inspires me when I write. I may not reply, but every comment gets me thinking!
I wanted to quickly reply to a comment made by Ken Hill, who wrote:
How in the world do you do this content? You have a good blog but there is no way people could possibly do this content. Finding a group to do this content is as impossible as solving world hunger or the creating peace in the Middle East.
I applaud your blog but for the regular player, this content can not be done. No way, no how.
I’m testimony to the fact that it can indeed by done, although as I had said in that entry, to get the most of Vanguard, you really need a regular group of friends or a network of players, like a guild, that you can tap into for adventuring. I consider myself a regular player – with play sessions that last only a few hours a night, and I’ve been lucky that I can lean on guildmates to come crawl dungeons for nights on end. It’s hard to do that with pick up groups, I agree. But with the upcoming server merge, plus the future additions of the brotherhood and mentoring, it should be a lot easier. In fact, grouping in Vanguard will soon be easier than in any other game. Just a little longer!
Posted by jayernh under Archive,Gaming Commentary | Comments (6)
August 26, 2007
With the upcoming server merge, Telon will soon resemble that hideously cheesy movie “Far and Away,” with throngs of players running madly to plant their flag and scoop up a housing plot. Many probably already have an eye on a certain plot, but some, like me, are still up in the air on where to build. Luckily, there are plenty of great player-made resources out there to help make the choice easier. I figured I’d put them together here for anyone else who might need some tips. (Just don’t steal my plot!)
I’m one of those people who can spend hours and hours putzing around with my house decor, and when I was playing Everquest II, one of my favorite forums was the Norrathian Homeshow. With three different continental housing styles, tons of areas for plots, and scores of unique items, it’s easy to design and decorate a house in Vanguard that fits who you are.
Above: Torradan crashes the party at Andaraiel’s house in the Deebs.
Why build a house? There are two practical reasons. One is that your house gives you an additional recall button. If you are in a guild, by the way, any home can be flagged as the guild headquarters, and that allows every member in the guild to gain a recall ability for that as well. Of course, you could also work towards building a guild hall, which is a huge effort but rewards you with your very own castle! (Or palace, or den of ill repute) You can find a breakdown of what’s needed for each type here – Diplomacy requirements — Crafting requirements. The other reason to build is that you can place chests in your home, which allow you a lot more storage space. If you are a packrat like me, you’ll love having this!
For anyone making the foray into real estate, there are several tidbits of “must know” information. And the one stop shopping site for most of it is Vanguard Crafters. From housing maps, to lists of materials needed, to gallery threads of player made items and decorating tips, this site has the foundation for anyone aspiring to build.
Another amazing resource is the new plot database by Soresha. Soresha’s maps have customizable POIs that you can make into a .txt file for use on your in game map. Now, there is an option to see individual locations of housing plots. That’s an incredible amount of work, but extremely helpful – thanks to the efforts of Thalantyr, UnicornsLady, and Soresha.
Above: Rancorr “The Troublemaker” prepared a hearty dinner to welcome his guests.
Once you’ve selected a plot, and you start construction, one thing to be wary of is the “abandon constuction” button. If you’ve put in materials, and you click it, you lose everything you put in there. So don’t abandon unless you really want to start over from scratch!
When you complete your house, it’s time for the real fun – home decor! Unfortunately, there is no easy way to find housing items right now because there is no search filter for it. What I’d recommend is the same thing that’s recommended on the Vanguard Crafters forums – use keywords like: Kojani, Qalian, Thestran, Select, Standard and Prime.
Be careful though! For some reason, some of the generic grade stuff on the housing merchants, which sell for about 22 copper, are labeled as “standard,” and sometimes even “prime.” So some vultures will scoop it up and then sell it on the broker for 50-75 silver, luring unassuming home buyers into paying for items that are barely worth vulture poop. In those cases, make sure to look for the “crafted by” line in the item inspect, with a player’s name listed. That way you know it’s player crafted and not just fodder from the housing merchants.
Above: Dunthain makes use of a few well-placed tables to add a nice sturdy bar into his dwarven abode.
Once you put something in your house, you can pretty much move it around any way you like. To do this, just right click it, choose move, and then use the X,Y coordinates to turn it, tip it, rotate it, etc. It’s fun to experiment with this, and I’ve had fun overturning cups and leaning objects on my desk. I’ve even seen some creative use of tables with this method.
Above: Carefully placed flowers around two stacked beds makes Andaraiel’s bedroom a picture of grace.
You can also make objects “float.” If you take an item and put it on top of another item, then move the thing that was underneath it, the original item will still stay suspended in place. Using this technique, I have seen people make stairs out of shelves, lofts out of tables, and even strange postmodern pieces, as evidenced by Faunis’ latest attempts at home decorating.
Above: Words escape me.
Housing isn’t perfect – some items appear as cups because they don’t have a final graphic, some of the original ideas for player created cities are still in the idea phase – but there are a ton of unique, detailed housing items, and a lot of freedom in how you want to place them. Just don’t model your home after Faunis’ house.
Posted by jayernh under Archive,Getting Started in Vanguard,Vanguard General | Comments (2)
August 17, 2007
Time to throw out a few stipulations:
Yes, Vanguard had a historically bad launch, suffered from performance woes, lots of bugged and broken content, some bad duping and exploiting, a dramatic and emotional transition from Sigil to Sony, and a subscription rate that dropped so fast it practically disproved Newton’s Law of Gravity. Most of the complaints about Vanguard are justified, and I understand the animosity.
Above: Warlord Khurang, from Rakshasa Citadel.
Yes, Vanguard has a long long long way to go before it earns back the trust of the MMO playerbase. And the game is still a while away from being polished.
Yes, I’m baised. I’ve played Vanguard since beta 3, and I have had a lot of fun. I’m lucky because I’m in a guild with some skilled and helpful players, and I never fail to find a group if I want one. (Although I am dying for a mentoring system so that I can group with more of my guildmates!) I know that the game has its faults, but what I’ve found is that if you are patient and spend time really exploring, you’ll see that there are some very talented people who made this game.
Above: Guard outside Pankor Zhi.
I’ve had some requests for a Vanguard “report card” over the past month or so, and I do plan to do one, but I still think it’s premature right now. Update #2 (which I look at as the first real update under Sony management) just came out yesterday, and while it’s full of performance increases and other great features that make the game more appealing (Advanced LFG system with dungeon lists by level, rest experience, a better quest tracker), there is still a lot planned that needs to go live.
But there are some important tidbits to note from the recent game update, and a lot of things that Vanguard players (and potential players) can look to as signs of hope down the road.
To me, the biggest sign of progress is in the timetable. Players complained and tried to make light of the long awaited game update and merge, but it wasn’t as slow as people think. When Sony took over Vanguard, the plan was to have large game updates every 6 weeks. Game update #1 was July 5th. Game update #2 was August 16th. That’s exactly 6 weeks, so they are right on target. That’s telling, and worth appreciating. There is a well-calculated short and long term plan for Vanguard, and they’re sticking to their deadlines.
Above: Riftseeker’s Torrent.
Game Update #2 has a lot of great changes and additions to the game, and they’ve been talked about and debated for a while. But here are three changes that I think deserve special attention:
1. Crash Fixes and Optimization – Performance is better after Update #2, and for those with lower end systems, it’s a lot better. This is a big first step in fixing performance issues, and it makes me eager to see what the game will look like after they finish work on the Trial Island and put the optimized changes into the live game.
2. Diplomacy is now level based (1-50) instead of skill based (1-500) – I’ve been gingerly approaching diplomacy for a while now, but I was forced to jump into it after the guild hall requirements came out. I still have a lot to learn, but I have to admit, I’m hooked! I plan to write more about diplomacy soon, but this change caught my eye. It means that diplomacy will be used a lot more in adventure content, since it’s easier to get diplomacy level to correspond to the content now that it’s on the same system. I’ve followed progress of diplomacy through the dev tracker (Aruspex is a prolific poster), and there is a lot of creativity coming from this sphere. It’s great to see it have a larger role in the world of Telon, and now that I’m a dip nerd, I can’t wait to try it out.
Above: Dazer’s Cave in Tar Janashir, Qalia.
3. Trickster’s Haven – The high level population is eagerly awaiting the arrival of raid content, and rightfully so. But what’s been sadly overlooked in Vanguard is its grouping content. If you are someone who has regular group of friends that you play with, or you have a network of friends through your guild, the dungeons and questlines in Vanguard are the best I’ve seen. The catch is that the premier dungeons usually take several nights to properly complete, and the best parts of the dungeon usually come at the end of the questlines and crawls. So pickup groups and people anxious to level are probably going to miss the best parts of the game, which is a shame. To really get the most out of this game requires patience and motivation, but it’s well worth it.
The reason I listed Trickster’s Haven as a notable is because it’s a great sign that they are continuing to work on regular game content, and 40-50 specifically. There is a lot of content that is sitting in limbo and pining to be polished and released. It would be a shame to see it collect dust, and it’s great to see that they are working hard to put it live.
The criticism towards Vanguard over the past 8 months has largely been warranted. It will take a lot to simmer the tempers of disgruntled former players. But I would not at all write off Vanguard. There’s a lot of progress being made, and I can’t wait to see it.
Posted by jayernh under Archive,Vanguard General | Comments (5)