SOE to snap up Sigil?

Rumors to that effect have been swirling madly about the interweb last week, and today Brad McQuaid, in his usual brief style, discussed everything within, but not including, a 5-foot radius of those rumors.

The money paragaph, and probably taken from Sigil’s pitch to SOE verbatim:

I think it’s safe to say that both Sigil and SOE see the potential of a mind blowing game by the end of the year. What’s needed, bottom line, is some time, and how to get that time is what’s being worked out. And so I still see a 500k+ game, I was just off by a year for a variety of reasons, some under my control, many not. And I think SOE sees this as well. To pull it off however, requires a funded and supported Sigil and a well marketed Vanguard with these different target audiences identified and solid plan on how to reach them all, and then a solid execution of said plan, hitting them hard, pushing these ‘WoW everywhere’ point of purchase materials from the front to the very back.. In the meantime, the Vanguard that was launched in early 2007 continues to move forward, with much of what I’ve talked about patched in over time, and the rest in the first expansion (or re-launch, or whatever we all agree upon in terms of product and service placement).

McQuaid analyzes the current market landscape hopefully (Hey, Burning Crusade has a silly raid progression, so casuals will come… try Vanguard! Lord of the Rings may not have a meaningful endgame so raiders may come… try Vanguard!) and sees a possible opening for a retooled Vanguard to take the world by storm. Unfortunately, it’s going to be difficult. Why?

You can’t make games for next year’s PCs. A good portion of McQuaid’s essay deals with the hope that gamers will, en masse, upgrade their systems to Vista, and in so doing have a machine that can, well, run Vanguard. Except that… gamers aren’t buying Vista. No one seems to be, actually. I just spent an evening yanking it off my machine.

World of Warcraft is successful for about 500 reasons. One of them is that anyone can run it. Its system requirements are low. It’s one of the few games I can comfortably run on my laptop. This is not insignificant. And it was very intentional (as Rob Pardo explained during his AGC keynote address) – to really have market penetration, you have to have as few roadblocks as possible. And an engine that requires… well, as McQuaid describes it:

Vanguard needs not only a fast graphics card, but also a system with pci-express, fast memory, a fast FSB, etc. With EQ, you just needed to buy a Voodoo 1 or Voodoo 2 – the rest of your system is fine. With Vanguard, however, just plugging the fastest AGP card into your 2-3 year old system doesn’t cut it. In fact, Vanguard runs pretty well on a 2 GB system with a decent pci-express video card and fast memory in a 2.6 GHz Pentium; conversely, run the game on an older AGP system, the fastest AGP card you can buy, and a 3.2 GHz CPU and you’ll have framerate issues. The game is simply not CPU bound, nor just graphics card bound, but rather mostly bound by the data that it needs to constantly move from the CPU to main memory to the graphics card, and then all the way back again. It’s all about the various bus speeds and caches – moving data around efficiently is arguably more important than processing that data on the CPU or GPU.

That’s not a roadblock. That’s a barricade manned by surly Somali gunmen in technicals, demanding all your RAM and motherboard bandwidth so they can trade it to IGE for qat leaves. And it sounds suspiciously like blaming your users’ purchasing and upgrade habits for your engine coding.

The market isn’t going to stand still. Sure, Vanguard launched against Burning Crusade. Then soon thereafter, Lord of the Rings launched. McQuaid describes this market as though these are where all his potential users have strayed, soon to return once they’re bored. Except that assumes that by that point, there won’t be Warhammer, and Conan, and WoW’s 2nd expansion, and any number of other new and shiny games. You can’t assume that you’ll have a chance once the new shiny wears off. The new shiny will always be with us. Which leads into:

You only get one chance. Sounds brutal. Is true.

Why? Because once your game no longer is that new shiny, you’re wrestling for users amongst the pool of churn, those players that hop from game to game and the occasional new convert achieved through word of mouth or web site ad or what have you. The problem is that finding those players is exponentially more expensive than just picking up the curious at first launch. When you first launch, you have no expectations (save those holes your marketing department or logorrheic message board posters dig for you). There’s a critical mass of new players, out of which social groupings can form among each other.

But afterwards, you have to deal with the fact that most players will be trickling in, and interacting with what community already exists. And if your launch didn’t go well? That community is ANGRY. Bad launches kill games.

Vanguard can, in a year, be the second coming of Robot Telon Jesus, and it won’t matter, without a concerted rebuilding effort. It’s not easy. As far as I know, there are only two games who have managed this: Eve Online and Anarchy Online. And neither have the mass market numbers McQuaid still expects. If Sigil/SOE does manage to turn the ship of Telon around, it will be a “world first”. They’ll have to significantly retool the client – not just expect users to upgrade to its level. They’ll have to have a clear path of content for users to explore, and a friendly community to embrace new users as they begin. (Anarchy Online has player volunteers that literally warp in and offer to help new players as they start, for example.) And even then… with all that… will Vanguard reach McQuaid’s oft-quoted and again-restated goal of 500,000 customers?

A better goal is a game that is slowly growing, self-sustaining, and with an active community. No one playing Eve really cares if they have 50k or 500k users – they have a fun game and they know it’s not going anywhere. That’s an example worth emulating.


57 Responses to SOE to snap up Sigil?

  1. Michael says:

    I would say SOE’s done alright bringing EQ2 from one of the roughest launch periods evar. Certainly they’re not at the 500k that Vanguard will hit, so by Brad’s standards they’re not a success. It is, however, more fun now than it was at launch, which I think counts for something.

    That said, though, I absolutely agree. The sheer number of games entering the field this year means that there’s no way to convince players there’s ‘nothing better’ for them out there.

    I knew this was coming and I still don’t understand. I know picking up a MMOG on the cheap makes good business sense, but seriously … just let this one meet Davey Jones and save us all the grief.

  2. Abalieno says:

    World of Warcraft is successful for about 500 reasons.

    And that, from the very beginning, I tried to summarize into one word: “accessibility”.

    you have to have as few roadblocks as possible

  3. Ibn says:

    Is there any way to rescue an MMO after its subscriber numbers have peaked? I don’t see that there is. Whether your peak comes at launch, or shortly thereafter, it seems like the best you can do is try to slow the churn. Doing a massive revamp in order to attract new customers a while after launch seems to be a poor way to get new customers, and a great way to drive off your existing player base.

    Are there any examples of a game in which they’ve been able to substantially attract new players after subscriber numbers have started to fall?

  4. Jason says:

    I think at this point EQ2 has a far better reputation than Vanguard. SOE should cannibalize Vanguard, steal every feature worth stealing and every programmer and artist worth taking, put Vanguard on the same shelf with the Matrix Online, and continue working on EQ2.

  5. Ironwood says:

    Yeah, that’s a really good breakdown of why McQuaid appears to be divorced from reality there Scott.

  6. D-0ne says:

    The sad truth is as simple as this, Vanguard: SoH isn’t more fun than any or its competitors and to many it is less fun.

    Does anyone even still pay to “beta test” this game?

  7. JuJutsu says:

    “Does anyone even still pay to “beta test” this game?”.

    Yes. But after this weekend, I’m no longer one of them. Lum has it nailed, I won’t be going back to Vanguard or EQII.

  8. naladini says:

    I just wish they had watched EQ2’s launch more closely, and gotten a better understanding of how damaging it can be to release with such a demanding graphics engine. It seems to me, EQ2 and VG:SoH tried “learning their lesson” from EQ1’s Shadows of Luclin launch (the pain of a Dx upgrade and new character models rolled into a large expansion) and are compensating by genuinely trying to plan efficient development 3-4 years down the road. That kind of foresight and initiative is commendable, the problem is, it isn’t practical. Its far better for the developer to have to shoulder this redesign burden later than it is to pass the burden on to your playerbase in the form of higher system specs initially.

    If the game is successful, the developer will have plenty of money to put in that graphics revamp if they want to later. If the game isn’t successful, they probably save a chunk of money during the design phase. 😉

    As a matter of perspective, I’m “hardcore casual” enough to have shelled out upwards of $2000 during EQ2’s beta for a new souped up machine, and happily, it falls into that spec that runs Vanguard very well. (That’s not bad for a 2year old machine, though it was very high end at the time.) I think SoH a fun game with some decent innovations. I just wish more people could play it reliably.

    From a market standpoint, back in the old days EQ1 did grow (eventually), to 500,000 subscribers. Modern day, WoW exploded to a couple million within what, 6 months? From where I’m sitting either trajectory can work, its simply a question of which path you’ve modeled your business around, and remembering that you have to walk before you run. If you don’t have a happy install base, you won’t retain the players you have, much less be able to attract new ones.

    I do think its possible for them to turn it around though. If you invest significantly enough in a game’s development, and are willing to experiment with free trials, you can pull in all sorts of big numbers. Its a question of getting them to stick, getting them to subscribe. The problem is, you can’t pull the trigger on the ad blitz too early, or they’ll never stick around. Polish the living heck out of it, to the point that your existing players are screaming at their friends to sign up, then, start advertising.

  9. Axecleaver says:

    Insightful analysis, Scott. My favorite part: “Continued optimization will help to a degree, but the game’s big hope here is simply Moore’s Law…” Um, that’s fine if you’re on day 1 of your 2-year development cycle. It’s not fine to have this outlook post-launch.

    If you turn your game around, I think it’s possible to recapture players post-launch, but it has to be done with at least a month of free access, and a free client (or use of existing client for old players). Anything short of that will be too much for anyone to risk given early impressions.

  10. downsj says:

    I sincerely hope that the developers and publishers in this industry take significant notice of Vanguard’s failure, and learn some valuable lessons from it.

    Vanguard is the new Horizons, and Brad is doing a really good impersonation of Dave Bowman at this point. Or is that Nero?

    The sad thing is, due to the fact that I wasted money buying Vanguard, which I don’t play, I can’t afford to purchase LoTRO, which I would like to play.

  11. Will says:

    He is seriously delusional. Way, way more than he ever came across before. To think that Conan isn’t going to be the hold over this year until Warhammer comes out in 2008. He’s out of his mind. And Vista, yeah get the F outta here. Vista won’t be making major market penetration at the end of this year. It’ll only start doing that mid 2008 to late 2008. When most of it’s major headaches are worked out. But Vanguard, he’s just not playing with the same deck as the rest of us are. He pushed the envelope on Tech, and that means bugs. Long story short, the game shouldn’t of been released as it was. They should of just simply sold the idea to another company or gone down, or sold their company and game at the same time.

    He’s not stupid, but he’s totally blowing smoke at the mirrors and certain of the new shiny wearing off and us to come back to Vanguard. Let me put it this way.. I would rather try Matrix Online. Than go try Vanguard again, it reminded me of the time back in EQ when you know.. Brad was there too and back then refused to listen to the player base about, … well problems. One ear, out the other.

  12. AcidCat says:

    “That’s not a roadblock. That’s a barricade manned by surly Somali gunmen in technicals, demanding all your RAM and motherboard bandwidth so they can trade it to IGE for qat leaves.”

    I’m still laughing. Absolutely classic.

  13. Chacki says:

    I avoided Vanguard on first release.
    Bad press and bad reports from the locals sent up the warning flags more than usual.

    Im no expert , and to be honest much of this numbers talk goes so far over my head its unreal – But im a man on the street , and know my own mind.

    For me , Sigil Blew it.
    Only a minor miricle and some choice offers would make me turn my gaze in its direction now.

  14. […] came to mind when reading Scott’s summation of Vanguard’s current issues, specifically the part where Brad McQuaid […]

  15. Mist says:

    A steady stream of high praises for EVE, from a person that has stated individual play skill should have low impact in MMOs.

  16. Igniferroque says:

    Point of Information: Robot Telon Jesus?

  17. Mist says:

    Robots are cool, like ninjas.

    Telon is the name of the world in VG.

    Jesus is supposedly the messiah, but that has been up for debate for some time now.

  18. Heartless_ says:

    Well Mist then that statement about Lum should hold skill, there is little play skill involved in EVE outside of having a bigger and better ship combined with more skill points (read: people that have played longer or eBayed up). The only skill in EVE comes in learning the UI, but once figured out you are only as good as your ship and skills.

    Other than the UI, the only EVE player skills required are common sense. If it’s 0.0, get the fuck outta dodge if you don’t have twenty friends ready to jump into your locale the second you see names pop in local.

  19. Hellfire says:

    I’d play Vanguard for a month if it came with a new rig to play it on that was mine to keep even if I returned the game for a full refund.

    Or if you put white-hot needles in my pupils.

    Either scenario, really. Carrot or stick, I guess.

  20. Mike Rozak says:

    I think that in some ways you’re overemphasizing Vanguard’s requirement problems, and in some ways, underestimating the the problem…

    Some thoughts:

    – Oblivion, which sold N-million copies, had high CPU requirements for the time. (Yes, it was a single player game… see below.)

    – IMHO, high system requirements is only part of the problem with Vanguard. I suspect that even if it ran on a wristwatch, it still wouldn’t sell huge numbers of copies. It’s too much YAFMMO (yet another fantasy/explitive MMO), incomplete, hardcore, and uninspired.

    – Conversely, whether a person plays in a MMO isn’t just about their girlfiend, it’s about ALL their online friends. (Almost) all of them need to have acceptable machines before they all swap to a new MMORPG.

    This is part of the “family restaurant problem” ( ) that MMORPGs encounter. Family restaurants must offer a menu item for everyone in the “family” or no one goes because everyone has veto power. All it takes is for one person in a group to say, “I don’t like spicy food”, and veto all Mexican and Thai restaurants from the list. Another person will say, “I don’t like italian”, and a third “I only eat steak”. A fourth will want a cheap meal. Consequently, the group ends up at Denny’s, which does offer a bit of everything for low cost (and low quality).

  21. Random Poster says:

    I swear that’s the first post i’ve ever seen in which Anarchy Online received a positive comment 😀

  22. Andy says:

    I’m playing Vanguard now, I love it, except I COMPLETELY, 100% agree with the following statement. THANK YOU LUM!

    “That’s not a roadblock. That’s a barricade manned by surly Somali gunmen in technicals, demanding all your RAM and motherboard bandwidth so they can trade it to IGE for qat leaves. And it sounds suspiciously like blaming your users’ purchasing and upgrade habits for your engine coding.”

    I’m running the game on an older AMD64 processor and a 7800 pci card and to put it mildly, the game runs like crap. Every time you wander a distance into a new town it takes DAYS (read, seconds) to swap out what I can only assume is model data and textures. It’s simply appauling that even at the LOWEST settings (minimal textures, resolution, and detail levels) the game just runs at borderline patheticness.

    WoW, runs awesome, full speed, and looks great.
    EQ2, runs at Balanced with decent results, and if I have to drop the detail for a raid the game actually runs faster! Wow!

    I’m sorry I have to give Brad any money, but the guy has a decent game. Sigil would have the clear winner right now if they could get off their high horses and fix… well, just about everything engine wise.

    I admit the soundtrack and audio effects aren’t too bad, but tell me this. Why do games like EQ2 and Vanguard feel it’s necessary to put in 100+ adjustments for their clients, when most people probably won’t fiddle with more than 2% of those controls?

    I’m not a huge WoW fan, I played to level 55 before quitting, but my god did that game look good, and not only did it look good on my main system, but it looked almost as good on my AMD Xp 1800+ with half as much RAM running on a Geforce 2 video card! 800×600, but besides the low textures and lower resolution, the UI still functions almost identically to my high end system and with the exception of high man raids, the system ran just fine. HELL EQ1 today doesn’t even run that great on that system.

    It’s no wonder they have x Million people subscribed, it’s because everyone’s got a system that can run this game. (/waves to the Mac denzens)

    Lum, Long time fan, first time poster. Keep up the good work.


  23. D-0ne says:

    Is Sigil out of cash? Just asking, as I did a little web snooping and it appears to me that Sigil needs a buyer badly.

  24. CmdrSlack says:

    Heh, ya think? McQuaid basically said that within the first paragraph of his “Boy King of Fantasy Land” post.

  25. Hellfire says:

    Weren’t they out of money when SOE acquired the thing a year(ish?) ago?

    The Not So Dearly Departed

  26. Zubon says:

    Pause. Wave a wand, and now everyone has a computer good enough to run Vanguard at top graphics settings, along with a T-1 line to each of our houses. Question: do you now play Vanguard, or is the game not fun apart from its technical Somali barricade?

  27. Jason says:

    “Why do games like EQ2 and Vanguard feel it’s necessary to put in 100+ adjustments for their clients, when most people probably won’t fiddle with more than 2% of those controls?”

    Same reason a top of the line washer and dryer set these days has 8 million settings on digital touch screen controls despite the fact that 99.9% of people will never use more than 3, maybe 4, settings. The illusion of deep control that actually amounts to finite, often unnoticeable, changes.

  28. Random Poster says:

    I can’t even comment on if Vanguard is a good game or not. It won’t run on my system. See high settings basically kicks yourself in the nuts. It doesn’t matter how badly I want to play an MMO, if it’s going to require a 2 thousand dollar upgrade for me to do so then well, nuts to it.

    WoW on the other hand runs perfectly well at it’s highest settings.

  29. Pika says:

    Brad is correct in that there are many of us old EQ’ers who have grown up, have careers, time constraints, etc.
    Yet he seems to think that this also means we have more discretionary income. Sure, I am in a better position to buy a high end machine now than I was in ’01, but theres no way I could justify that expense with two kids, trying to save for a house, etc.
    Who exactly are these people he was targetting? If it can’t play on my 3 year old 2.4 Dell with a 512MB video card upgrade, then that’s it bro, you’ve made me fold my hand.
    I was looking forward to playing a Wolf Man. But not enough to cash in my children’s CDs.

  30. Jobrill says:

    Man, When I used to play EQ, I always maintained that Brad McQuaid was a lucky goober who wouldn’t survive two seconds in an actual competitive MMORPG market.

    So glad to see myself justified.

  31. AcidCat says:

    There will always be that must-have game that forces you over the edge and you spend money to buy a whole new system.

    Vanguard just wasn’t that game. Not even close.

    Aside from knowing Vanguard wouldn’t play on my 5 year old PC, it had zero cool factor to make me even consider upgrading. It didn’t pass the “I want to be that dude!” test. Take WoW, you’ve got giant bull dudes, undead, orcs, etc. You saw screenshots, watched movies before you played – and you saw cool characters. You probably saw one and thought “I want to be that dude!” You wanted to step into that character’s shoes and play him in that world. Warhammer Online has this too – I look at a Witch Hunter or a Chaos Chosen and think: I WANT TO BE THAT DUDE! That’s cool. Vanguard’s problem was they tried to be too real. Real is boring. Real is generic. You look at Vanguard’s characters, and it looks like mannequins dressed up for a local renfaire. Oh, and some of them have wolf masks on. Not Cool.

  32. Oliver Smith says:

    “Why do games like EQ2 and Vanguard feel it’s necessary to put in 100+ adjustments for their clients, when most people probably won’t fiddle with more than 2% of those controls?”

    Because 1% of those adjustments will be vital to each player.

    If you do anything even vaguely, remotely cool with your game engine, then it’s going to crash or run badly on 50% of your player’s machines.

    And since you’re not developing for a console or a mac, you’ve got a huge plethora of operating conditions to pander for. Two guys with the same amount of processing power and different monitors either care or care not for normal maps, and the guy who doesn’t care about normal maps will be upset that he can’t turn them off and have higher textures instead for the performance.

    And because there is so much variety not just in hardware but drivers … If you don’t put the options there, you will expend tech support and customer service time trying to find why fred’s video card – which is supposedly the same as bills – gets 3fps in your engine instead of 300.

    As long as the options are well organized, there’s every good reason to include them, as long as you don’t reach the lengths of adding options to make it look like you have lots of options.

  33. Ardanna says:

    The problem is, however, that having the high system does not mean you can play…

    And that’s an even bigger problem.

    I currently have a pretty decent system – nVidia 8800 (I forgot the remaining letters, but it was the bloody expensive one), dual core E6600, 2 gigs of ram, I am running Vista, Xi-Fi Gamers sound card etc.

    I cannot play the game. In Tursh, my memory starts out at about… 60%. Within 5 minutes I am at 90%, within 2-4 minutes after that I hit 93% and crash, out of memory.

    The logs consistently state I’m out of virtual memory. I’m not. I check the message boards, other people with different configurations have this problem as well.

    The world neither lives no breathes, nor do I care about any of the problems any of the NPCs have.

    One beta tester put it very well when he stated he would be happy if they nixxed 80% of their “massive” world, and just, you know, did the 20% well. Fill it up to the brim with content and points of interest.

    It’s just not there. Sorry gang, you can’t patch a first impression and you blew it. It’s been months since release and I still cannot play it and my system is more than powerful enough.

    So…yeah – I stick to WoW on LotR and whatever other shinys that may come along and catch my interest. But…I’ev struggled with Vanguard long enough and I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve been duped (pid $135 for the bloody collectors edition, and both my partner and I upgrade our machines, so there’s thousands of dollars that were spent prematurely.).

    Yeah, really don’t want to hear their excuses anymore. Sorry about your crappy game and wasted investment (not to mention my wasted cash).

  34. No.6 says:

    “As long as the options are well organized, there’s every good reason to include them”

    Points well taken. However, as it takes a considerable bit of tuning to get the preferable balance between eye candy and performance, and as no two people’s idea of that balance point is the same, and since many options are rather arcane to the non-technical, it can all be a waste.

    Sometimes turning ‘down’ the various sliders can negatively impact both performance and appearance (e.g, underutilizing the system, or causing textures not to be cached when they could) and because peoples’ systems vary so widely online help is not always helpful.


    As for recovering users: it happens, and will happen more often in future, I think. Because very few of these games truly die, the ‘churn’ population who might already own EQ and WoW and EQ2 and Vanguard and LOTRO (or whatever) can float back at minimal cost to see if some new innovation in an existing game sparks or resparks interest.

    This appears to have happened with EQ2. At launch it needed polish and made mincemeat out of the common machines of the time; but with its latest expansion and faster machines it’s humming along.

  35. zentr says:

    I play Vanguard and I love it! I can’t go back to EQ2 now that I have played Vanguard. I agree with much of what has been said. The game runs poorly on my aging machine (which was fine for EQ2), and I crash to desktop. But I am still having fun and there is much in Telon that I want to do.
    Can Vanguard be revitalized? Obviously, from me pov, I hope so. I don’t want the game dumbed down and I don’t want an NGE. But I would like better game performance, bug fixes, and general game health with a larger playerbase. EQ2 certainly improved it’s numbers with time and some great expansions. One of things that is often said about Vanguard is that is has a lot of potential. People don’t say that for nothing. I just hope the game gets a chance to approximate that potential.

  36. […] real man. This kind of attitude baffled me at the time, and it continues to do so. It also appears to baffle some others […]

  37. Coho says:

    Now any questions on why MicroSoft bailed out?

    500,000 subs is delusional. maybe 150- 180,000 to survive.

    My machine plays it fairly well (2 years old) and I am enjoying it for what it is. It a place that I chat with friends on Vent and explore.

  38. Andy says:

    From Jason:
    “Why do games like EQ2 and Vanguard feel it’s necessary to put in 100+ adjustments for their clients, when most people probably won’t fiddle with more than 2% of those controls?”

    Same reason a top of the line washer and dryer set these days has 8 million settings on digital touch screen controls despite the fact that 99.9% of people will never use more than 3, maybe 4, settings. The illusion of deep control that actually amounts to finite, often unnoticeable, changes.”

    I’ll buy that Jason, but I think the client needs the “universal settings” like high, medium, low that actually work. I mean you can drop Vanguard down to “Highest Performance”, but does it really run any better when windows is swapping out textures constantly.

    I keep hearing how windows has poor memory management which is why the longer you play the longer it takes to swap textures from memory, but other games seem to have gotten around this.

    Ah well.

  39. Andy says:

    Oliver said:
    “Because 1% of those adjustments will be vital to each player.”

    Yeah, but realistically if I don’t want to mess with the engine, I just want to play. Having a slider that goes from low to high is all I’d really need. If someone needs access to that 1% that’s causing a system lockup hopefully the game itself would be smart enough to disable or enable whatever the user needs to get by. Why leave it to guesswork?

    User has to hunt for that %1 of the controls that’s causing problems, in the meantime causes other problems because he’s switching around the wrong ones?

    Yeah, I know the whole hardware arguement with PC gaming, but thanks to standards like DirectX that problem is not nearly as bad as it used to be assuming your hardware doesn’t do weird ass shit and your program follows the standards. *can you tell i’m not a programmer?*

    “As long as the options are well organized, there’s every good reason to include them, as long as you don’t reach the lengths of adding options to make it look like you have lots of options.”

    Yeah, that’ll happen. I just want to game to work, I don’t need to be told if I turn on “Hardware Occolision” my game may run faster. If you think i’ll benefit from it, then turn it on, and put it in an INI for all the overclocking tweak freaks that love spending 80 hours getting one more fps out of their “rigs”.

  40. casual says:

    In all honesty, I am surprised with all the negativity concerning Vanguard.

    The only game I played that was more polished at launch was WoW. Even then, WoW was unplayable the first month because of server queues, our server(archimonde) was even taken down for almost a week. The only game I can recall that I was unable to play the first month was AO.

    I run a coreduo2 2ghz with 2 gig of ram and a 7800gtx card and the VG runs better then EQ2 did for me.

    Then again, no other MMO currently offers me a seamless FFA world.

    My concern is that VG will go the path AO went, which means making changes that will alienate a lot of current subscribers in an effort to get new ones.

    Someone brought a point up about how games were like restaurants.
    Coming from a multi-gaming guild that has existed for over 7 years, I can say that recruiting in every MMO since, has created a guild that is composed of people with very different taste and opposing views in gaming.

    The problem with a lot of these games is they try to appeal to the masses and by doing so neglect and risk loosing their core audience.

  41. casual says:


    What you recommend is good for some people, but would require me to run games on their lowest settings instead of disabling things that aren’t important to me(shadows, clouds, etc) and enabling things that are (view distance).

    There has to be a happy medium in between for the tech savvy people as opposed to forcing everyone to the lowest common dominator.

  42. martin says:

    I currently play vanguard and have since beta..The potential is frightening but they need to sort our the massive bugs duping ect…Whether they can do this before the game runs outa money i dont know…but hight priority bug fixing and lore should be more important that chat bubbles…

  43. Steve Liest says:

    I’m about tired of the complaining. Every darn one of you knew before you ever bought into the game what the game required. I believe it is written in plain English the requirements. I upgraded my 2 year old machine to a Navidia 9000 added 1500 ram and started playing the game. This complaining about the systems I belive is a darn way to cover that you folks don’t want to use the brain cells to play. I love the very idea that VanGuard is so very different. i enjoy not playing a childs brainless game like WOW and I’m enjoying the not zoning every few seconds like in EQ. No where is there crafting like VG no one has Diplomacy. You kids that are spoiled or to lazy to think go back to WOW or where ever you came from and give VG a chance.

  44. Robert says:

    I am not sure why so many people are so negative about Vanguard. Wow had a rougher launch and took over a year to settle in.

    Yes, Vanguard does require a bit more hardware then Wow, Eve, or DDO and I am fine with that. I actually like the game. I like that I am not stuck with instances(Wooot!!!!), there is crafting (Better than Wow), diplomacy (No where else), decent MOBs, non-cartoon graphics, and decent quests.

    I am a casual gamer in that my ten to fifteen hours of game time a week needs to be invested where I feel my time is not thrown away by playing some mindless leet-kiddie filled game. In the same vein of time, I do not have the time available for running around with a group or guild — Just not there. This is counter to how most MMOs are set up; DDO is setting the bar for the extreme side of this. I find Vanguard to be more friendly to my style of play then most other MMOs

    I have played many games over the years and I find that even the “Level Grind” in Vanguard is more oriented towards the casual gamer instead of the leet, kiddie scripting, all your raids belong to us type of player which Wow seems oriented. Along similar lines, I left Eve two years ago in pure frustration and have no intention of going back.

    I tried the beta of LoTR and just stopped playing at the first sign of instances — When a barroom is an instance and I am frustrated by that, I know I am spoiled and I love it.

    The graphics in Vanguard are really nice. Yes, the overall display engine needs works. Yes, the engine sort of sucks out the bandwidth of my “Older” system. Yes, there is some work to do there. I am o.k. with that. At the same time, I am not playing some brainless cartoon game with rude people who act like their age and I.Q. is 12. So, in this case, a barrier to entry is good.

    For the record, my game system currently consists of a P4 2.6GHz, 2GB RAM, and a Nvdia 6600 AGP == Not a highend or current system by any stretch. At some point, I will upgrade to a current processor, current graphics, and about 4GB of RAM; until then, I am aware of my system’s limits and I operate within them.

  45. tyrollgrock says:

    I enjoy the game myself; little anoyed that one of my best friends can’t play because his system just does not cut the mustard; but here is what is going to destroy the game – GOLD DUPING. End of story – I worked hours to get harvesting up and collect about 7 gold at level 21 – now you can buy 250 gold for 8 DOLLARS US – EIGHT #&J@’ing Dollars!

  46. Carlos says:

    I can understand why Vanguard would garner quite a bit of bad press. There are performance issues for quite a few people and several bugs. However that has been the case with any MMO I have played at launch really.

    I absolutely love the game and it grabs my attention like no other MMO has since SWG at launch (and to be fair that was more due to my love for Star Wars than anything else). I enjoy the adventuring and questing, especially the “lore” of the quests. Great back stories there at times and very intriguing. Quite a few of them make me “want” to do the quest. The crafting in this game is stellar. And to top it off it is an important part of the game’s economy, as was SWG way back in the day. This opens up an entirely different style of gameplay that you can do full-time if you choose, which is a plus. Diplomacy is interesting and decent as far as fun goes. That part of the game has true potential to be spectacular more than anything else.

    Back to the performance issues though. I have no problems running the game. I have an Core 2 E6600, 4GB DDR2, 150GB Raptor X hard drive (15k RPM), and an NVidia 8800GTX on Vista Ultimate. So no I would not expect to have any problems with the game, and I don’t (I run at max settings, including ultra textures at 1680×1050). My wife plays as well, she has an old machine (P4 2.8GHz, 2GB DDR, 80GB 7200RPM, NVidia 6800GT). With those specs she wasn’t expecting to play above “High Performance”, but she actually can run the game decently on “Balanced”. She never runs out of memory and rarely, if ever, crashes. With that said, most people in my small guild have major performance problems. I am not sure if they were expecting to run at higher settings or what the deal is, but they have issues and many have left the game — albeit temporarily — until performance issues have been worked out.

    Another issue I have been complaining about since beta (played there for a while) is that the world is too big for it’s own good. And what I really mean by that is the fact that you can choose many different races per continent, and usually you’re thrown in your own starting area for that race that is REALLY far from the starting areas for other races (sometimes two races share the same starting area). What this does is really spread out the population enormously, and people have trouble finding groups in a group oriented game. Also, it makes no real sense that say the Vulmanes and High Elves cannot start in the same area, despite not liking eachother, when they are not the real enemies of one another in this game. The true enemies of each continent are non-playable races.

    Speaking of groups, there are big problems with group disconnects (a group member suddenly being dropped from the group because they crossed a zone) still after being in beta. I am not sure they know how to fix this problem (well that’s obvious) or where to look, because it has been a huge problem since beta.

    Outside of those negatives I mentioned above, the game is truly great. However those are three really big problems Vanguard needs to overcome if it wants even half of the subscribers Brad is targeting. First impressions are a big thing especially when people are trying your game after playing polished games that have been out for years (EQ2, WoW, etc). Most people I know will overlook bugs with quests and whatnot, but when the game is unplayable due to performance problems, well people just can’t play — even if they want to.

  47. EVE PVPer says:

    The above comment about EVE is dead wrong. Player skill is very very important in combat. The problem is that you have to learn a lot to realize that. Most people never learn enough about PvP, because they roll in massive 20 ship gank squads, to learn this.

    Saying character skills are the be all end all shows a complete lack of understand of the skill system. Primarily the 80/20 factor. Training a skill to level 4 (80% of max) takes 20% of the time as training a skill to level 5 (max). The gain from level 4 to 5 is linear.

  48. bulldog says:

    The game is finished for all the reasons above. Even if they do fix it up to the point it needed to be at launch within the next year, who the heck is going to go back and give it a try after what happened and with the launch line up over the next 12 months? Brad should be happy if his game survives the next year or two.
    No game has EVER recovered from a screwed up launch. This situation has been played out dozens of times with MMO’s why would Vanguard be any different, because it’s special?

  49. BetaN says:

    Oblivion runs fine (well even) on my 3 year old pc with upgraded memory and graphics.

    Vanguard was horrendous. My hard disk light never stopped flashing.

    It was too frustrating to bother with.

  50. John says:

    I would hate to see SOE try to get more customers the way they did with SWG. Last time i checked that was a bad thing.

  51. Xiara says:

    Vanguard has more potential than any other MMO out there. The classes are the most well-balanced, and the most fun I’ve played in any game. I’ll deal with the bugs (which as everyone apparently forgets happens with EVERY single MMO launch.) Game runs great on my system, unfortunately for others not so good. It really does take a “super” computer to run this game. I’d love to see Sigil fine tune the client so more people can play on lower-end systems. Really are missing out.

    I think that VG will be succesful in the future…cuz if LOTRO is any indication of how Warhammer or Conan will play……..I’ll just leave it at that.

  52. jonthebrit says:

    “You kids that are spoiled or to lazy to think go back to WOW or where ever you came from and give VG a chance.”

    Which is it … go back to WoW or give VG a chance?

    Gave VG a chance … worked past the performance issues and still found the game was a steaming pile of shit.

  53. Lord Macabre says:

    My major problem with their technical requirements are that I can’t see anything on screen to justify the poor performance. I’ve got a P4D-3Ghz, 2Gig of memory and a Nvidia 7800GTX. I have two options, I can either set the game so that it has a passable frame rate, in which case it looks worse than DAOC (which is many years old at this point), or I can crank up the graphics and get abysmal performance with graphics that I personally still don’t think are that great. Some effects are striking (the water comes to mind), but overall the sum of the parts graphically aren’t anywhere near good enough to explain the terrible performance.

    My second issue isn’t that there are bugs, but the sheer quantity and severity of the bugs. I expect bugs in a new game. I do not, however, expect to get dropped from groups, randomly disconnected, dropped to desktop, logged out randomly and logged in as a different character (seriously, WTH is that all about), etc. This game doesn’t just have bugs related to the game engine, it’s just a mess that wasn’t ready for launch.

    Finally, the progression of content and the pacing are terrible. I’m given no direction regarding where I should be progressing. I find myself wandering countryside randomly looking for something my level to do, and instead just running into either things that are out of my league, or barren and empty entirely. As someone said, I’d rather they had less total content, but had quality content and had a clear progression path.

    I doubt I’d try it again unless it was free play time, but even then it depends on how long it takes them to sort things out. As most probably know, people don’t generally commit time to more than one MMO at a time, and I doubt I’d drop another that was holding my attention to come back even for free time after my initial experience with Vanguard.

  54. Dave says:

    VG is crap and it was crap when it was released. The game is broke. All this fanboy talk really makes me sick. I’m so glad I BETA ordered so that I avoided paying $$$$ for the POS. I’m an old school EQ player so I don’t mind a hard core game but all the problems with VG is too much.

    I figure VG will close if the evil nerf happy monster named SOE does not buy Sigil. The bottom line is the consumer has spoken and Sigil now feels the wrath of angry customers who paid $$$ for a broken POS.

  55. Kamiki says:

    Kamiki here, many people in beta may or may not remember me, I played from early 2.0 up until the end and when I left the forums stunk with the hate replies my goodbye post received.

    I really wanted to love Vanguard. I followed the game from the Sigil Games Online forums, posted on them, and eventually moved to the Vanguard Forums. I watched the game go from stuttery piece of crap with massive potential to clone of the other games that had discarded much of potential and yet still somehow has enough potential that it could have launched amazingly.

    Brad did have an idea but he got scared, or so I think. The Big Book of Sexiness was replaced with a WoW quest/ability ui. The damn interface was given gryphons on either side of a bar the same damn size as WoW, replacing the interesting layout originally used for the original styllized combat. Counters and reactionaries were trashed in favor of a mash style play style ala WoW and EQ2. Instead of fine tuning the reactiionary timer combat they gave up, instead of fine tuning their gorgeous quest tracker, lore tracker, ability and spell book, the gave up. Instead of finishing diplomacy they scrapped it for a side game. They gave up. Time was running out and instead of following their innovations they gave up and cloned the games they all admitted to playing avidly.

    I am not bashing WoW and EQ2, far from it. I enjoyed both games for quite some time. I am knocking Brad’s inability to follow through with innovation. His cowardice in back peddling his words and changing his story from “The first 3rd gen innovative game” to “The first 3rd gen progressive game” somewhere along the line he lost sight of what he was trying to create. Would I have liked what he was trying to create? I will never know cause all that he churned out was a half assed regurgitation of the same old shit I can play in other games.


  56. nach0king says:

    While his “OK, if we can just get the WHOLE WORLD to upgrade then everything will be ok!!!!!” spiel does indeed reek of Crazy, at least he acknowledges that the “it’s just EQ 3” perception is a failure of marketing. A younger Brad, and indeed almost everyone connected to EQ, would have blamed the users for being so stupid and naive not to have recognised Vanguard’s genius straight away.

    Granted, he does that a little bit with his “they don’t do any research!” statement. But still. Progress!

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