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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Quylein vs. Aggro: Vanguard Debate

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Fellow blogger Quylein the Mage and I got into a little discussion on the Aggro Forums about the upcoming MMO Vanguard from Sigil Games. We decided to continue that debate via e-mail and post it for you on both our sites. I’m taking the anti-Vanguard position while Quylein is taking the pro-Vanguard stance. Quylein's comments are in italics so you can tell us apart.


I do not think Vanguard will be a commercial failure. The amount of fansites and forum threads about this upcoming MMO dwarf those of any other game. What I do question is whether this hype is merited. It's yet another fantasy MMO and the E3 reports from unbiased sources left me quite unimpressed as did the videos. I know that is not a fair measure of what the game will be, but I like to base my opinions on facts rather than some vague devotion to a person who left SOE at the perfect moment in time. And from what I can see, the classes are a snoozefest, the mobs are unimaginative, and the graphics are not at the level I expected. Basically, it looks like an updated first-generation MMO rather than the third-generation MMO Sigil claims it is.

I would have a hard time to disagree with you on the fansites and forums, most in general are very well put together. I believe that says a lot about Sigil in general, it's like they are here to provide a product from the little man to the little man (us). To me it makes a difference and it's been showing in everything, I also believe that it leads people to speculate and start to put expectations on the game. The game’s pictures to me more or less are unrefined as in most cases with alpha pictures. They are now hitting beta 0 but I like to call it alpha because it's not really open to a small general public that has no ties to the people making the game. I will try to be unbiased as I possibly can about Vanguard as a whole and as you may have read I don’t dig the graphics all too much either. Thought they will be tweaking graphics on into launch, much as they did with Everquest Live. This hype is attributed from Ex-EQlive people like me because we know what Brad and his team is capable of. EQ was tough and I like things to be tough, not a gimmy like EQ2 and others has become.

Groups vs. Solo

Solo play is a must in all these games but I believe people deep down really feel they love a great group better, though granted sometimes we would much rather solo then be in a bad group. The point here is that Sigil is gearing Vanguard to be a group centric game much like the Everquest line was. There will be possibilities to solo, though from what I understand it will not be easy or in abundance as you may see in today’s FAST FOOD MMO’s. As I've mentioned I don’t like easy and I think easy becomes a grind, which becomes boring, which leads me to quit. Which is the reason I believe WoW and EQ2 days are numbered, that is if they don’t get there act together when Vanguard hits the shelves.

I am not going to argue against a group-centric game because I personally would like to see a company try to focus solely on group play rather than trying to be everything to everybody. People who like to solo when they only have a few hours or can't find a group may feel differently. And they are a big portion of the market.

Sigil & Microsoft

As for Sigil being "the little man" let's not forget that they are in league with the complete opposite of the little man, Microsoft. I wonder how this relationship will affect the game. I'm sure Microsoft would like to have Vanguard out for the XBox 360 as soon as possible and I think that might have a negative effect on the game.

I believe that Brad has held his part of the bargain and is not gonna let Microsoft walk over the project. He is straight forward, and that there is no stone unturned and no cloud torn apart before it's in the game. Vanguard for the XBox 360 might be a winner for Microsoft but, official word is No-Go so the effect would only occur after the game is already released. In that case Vanguard is already a game designed for the computers so it's the question: how will it affect Xbox 360 owners? Though I don't think many care much because the followers for this are avid EQ1 Fanatics and most probably are computer owners. To answer the question plainly I think it's a blessing more then a curse Microsoft is helping foot the bill. The positive aspect is they know what beta is and how it works versus Sony when they took over EQ franchise what did they know? How to sell Boom-Boxes and CD's.

Character Classes & Combat

Character Classes are a snoozefest? I know it's hard to understand what people can come up with nowadays but they did it between EQ1 and EQ2 and did it well. I believe Vanguard will do it better. Bloodmage to me seems like it's gonna keep you on your toe's at least to what's been hinted at. Suck the enemy health for you power so you can heal your tank. In combat with every action there is a counteraction. To me it seems as if they have well thought out combat. There will be no more Click auto attack hit CA... look at pretties Oooo mob dead, rinse repeat. There will be consequences as to what you kill too, which is really missing from EQ2 (factions). As far as the Mobs being unimaginative, it would be dependant on what context. If you are to say vs. other MMO's of today then I have one word. HOBGOBLIN (or is that two?). Not sure why but I just love the way it looks and can’t wait to nuke a few down. There are a few other Mobs I've seen pictures of that I enjoy such as the Gator type mob and a cave troll creature. These seem a bit different in the looks of the average "yard trash" I've been use to experiencing on.

I understand Vanguard is pushing the idea of reaction and counter-reaction in combat. As for a class which transfers health from the mob to another player, is that so different than the Dark Pillaging spell for the EQII Warlock which converts a mob's power into power replenishment over time for the caster's group? And I know Vanguard has these counter moves, where you turn the enemy's spells against them. But EQII has stifles which, when timely cast, can shut down an enemy's spells. It's not a huge difference.

The combat system for Vanguard is going to have similarities to the otherwise inflated MMO stream this is true. However relating the stifle to a counter fire to me is like relating a fighter’s block to a riposte, plus I’m guessing here; it would look cooler. As far as power replenishment goes, there will always be a way to get it back. How many ways can you make the water boil ? (Coal, wood, gas, electricity) What I'm trying to say here is you can make up ideas but the ones that are already tried and true why not use em? They did make EQlive and now they are on Vanguard. If you ask me it's EQ2 that has done nothing but cut and paste ideas from other people.


This debate covers many more Vanguard issues (travel, diplomacy, the Advanced Encounter System, tradeskill, harversting, and Sigil's stance on RMT) but since it is too long for a blog post I am posting the rest on the Aggro Forums. Please follow this link to check it out and feel free to join in the discussion yourself.


Blogger kirkgibson said...

Good debate guys. I agree that it's been underwhelming yeah so far BUT I will be most likely be buying this game unless I hear really bad things from the beta.

12:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few comments on Vangard's debats :

"Solo play is a must in all these games but I believe people deep down really feel they love a great group better"

Bip ! I largely prefer solo or very small group play...

I feel there's quite more challenge trying to progress on a solo course. Yep you're alone, you're not Stalone and you have to make do with what your class can do... You have to pla, think and try to use your abilities in the best way

Group play ?? Here lies the grind.. It's sooooo boring, you could macro a balanced group with no challenge.. Fixed roles, fixed strategy, less risk.. Boooring ;b

"As I've mentioned I don’t like easy and I think easy becomes a grind, which becomes boring, which leads me to quit"

Yup agree 100%. I had my best adrenalin rush while soloing in early EQII when most mobs where aggro group encounters... There you had to have som skill and thrills.

So why do I play MMORPG ?

I love the interaction ! I like to be in a dynamic guild. I solo 80% of time does that mean I'm alone ? NOPE. People help each other a lot. We have complex dynamics within guilds, with crafters, etc... Don't believe that solo vs group means alone vs interaction !
That's what I often see on the official forum and it's a really biased view...

5:17 AM  
Anonymous Wargut said...

Hey Not Fair! You're a lawyer :)

Quylein is defending the upcoming game te best he can. Old School EQ1 Players will all check it out but I'm not so sure that many will stick with it.

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Ian said...

Quylein comes out rather poorly in this debate. A tenacious grasp of English language and grammar only serves to further weaken arguments that rely primarily upon slamming existing solutions. He would have been better served by pointing to concrete and well structured alternatives that Vanguard may offer.

My primary concern lies with the assertion that gamers "want things to be tough," as Quylein portrays himself as Joe EveryGamer. Naturally, challenges are enjoyable to overcome and are desirable in a MMORPG. Having said that, the industry has had significant difficulty in making "tough" a function of anything but an ungodly investment of time.

Becoming an Olympic swimmer, for example, is tough. This does not mean that pools should only provide high speed racing lanes with the view that everyone, for lack of slow lanes, will strive to improve themselves to that level--and enjoy it. Pools, like MMORPGs, have to find that middle ground to ensure that challenges of all levels are available to those who seek them.

I continue to follow this site with interest and thank Aggro Me for bringing this topic up.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Aggro Me said...

Well, I thought Quylein did a good job defending Vanguard (he definitely got me with my incorrect XBox 360 info). Despite my protests, I will probably check the game out because I am interested in how Sigil's ideas pan out.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Quylein said...

Well I apoligize for my grammer and english but, I did'nt have time to edit everything the way I would have liked.

It really wasnt about anything that Vanguard could provide it was about what they have already said they will provide.

I also didnt write as if I'm every Joegamer I wrote it as a long time EQlive and EQ2 player, but mainly picking up my opioins on my EQlive experiances.

I did'nt want things to be like I was grasping I didnt say things should be tough so there for it should be a certain way. I wan't a challeng. What I find challenging and what you and anybody else finds challenging are almost always going to vary.

Such as anonymous here finds Solo Challenging though, I myself do not (in most cases).

I'm not making Vanguard and don't know everythign they plan to do but I do know middle ground is where Brad and friends are trying to take it.. just read his post here.


Brad has many other post's that state his intentions on having a middle ground but, he also is ensuring those that those who solo vs grp vs raid there will be a differance.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Twodragons said...

Regarding group versus solo:
When I buy and play a game, I buy it so I can PLAY it.

I would not want to be sitting like a 4th string left tackle hoping to get picked up to play. Pick me coach! What do you mean I don't have the right gear?! Oh, you're looking for a Right Tackle...dang.

I enjoy grouping with all the fun and social interaction it (or does not) bring. But I wouldn't want that to control my ability to play effectively and have fun.

If Vanguard becomes a regurgitation of FFXI grouping, then it may not be the game for me.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should register to have another tag name than anonymous :)

Sorry it's not a cover to hide behind, just simple laziness

As i find this blog a true gem, actually, I might ;b

Sir Queylin ! Yes I'm the same Anonymous that claimed to like solo better for the challenge.

If it was not clear in my post, let me just say that I was talking about 'earlier' EQII solo, when most mobs where heroic aggro, and you had to be ever on you guard, and had to find a prey with much care ;b

'Nowaday' EQII, I could just macro my conjurer to let it gain xp... Well truthuly, sometimes I fell, I could just leave my computer, with my character in a green aggro zone and let my pet auto xp for me ;b

Okay that's less fun :(

Frankly, as for group play, I feel very much there's always the same mechanics. The worst xp grinds I've seen where while on groups :(
And huge zone like the Zek castle, for rescue Greenhoods are no fun for me.. Reminds me of 'Castle Wolfenstein'...

Group play as I experienced it, is fixed roles, fixed strategy, and sometimes (I hate those guys), perfect combination of classes.. Shoo go away we already have this class :(

Why do I group ? Because sometimes I must ;b Because often I like to be with friend and it adds something to solo play, sometimes to loonely ?

My best groups : pickup guild buddies, without precise composition.. No healer ? Well can do ;b Harder but can do ;b

So why do I play a MMORPG and not the latest PC 'non-net' RPG ? Well the key is an immersive universe and lots, lots of interaction. Playing solo doesn't mean to be alone, through this artificial and yet so usefull channels. And yes, for me, a good MMORPG would be one that provide as much content and challenge for groups and solo, and leaves room for much interaction and social events ;b

Cheers !

PS : I would'nt even dream on commenting on your english. I just hope you can decipher my poor text;b Well it's obvious, I'm not a native english speaker ;b

3:10 AM  
Anonymous Alphatib said...

Okay no registery is required ?

Sorry then for the 'anonymous' cover ;b

3:11 AM  
Blogger Alphatib said...

Oh my :(

I should really check my text before posting...

Sorry, sorry, sorry :(

3:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Group play ?? Here lies the grind.. It's sooooo boring, you could macro a balanced group with no challenge.. Fixed roles, fixed strategy, less risk.. Boooring ;b

Are you high? Solo is easy mode. You know your limits, you can easily control difficulty and never be challenged. There is almost no risk unless you intentionally create it.

With grouping you can face bigger challenges, experience more unknowns, must trust and rely on others, and some other skills beyond just button mashing, like communicating, come into play.

You could easily automate soloist easy mode, but you could not automate a good group.

Soloing should always be available in MMORPGs but should never be as remotely rewarding as grouping.

Those who want to solo extensively should be playing single player games instead of contributing to the ruin of MMORPGs.

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