Five For Friday: Favorite Character Mechanics

I thought I might share this series with one of the things that drives interest in a game for me – interesting classes and class mechanics. This is one reason WildStar is not of interest to me while Elder Scrolls Online is – same old classes with same old three part skill trees vs. archetype + weapon + morph builds that change the way the game looks and unfolds in front of your eyes. This may be a reason TERA appeals to me too – the warrior is DPS and one of the healers is a pet class?! Love it! I like for fun little perks, utilities, and options to come into play. I like for norms to be twisted up a bit. I like to have a character that has something interesting or unusual to do in the game, even if that means they are not the best tank or healer or DPS player out there. So, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite character mechanics in the MMO field thus far:

1) “Avast matey, lower your flags, this ship be mine!” (‘Take Command of Ship’ Skill; Pirates of the Burning Sea)

My favorite character in PotBS has always been my Pirate – later, after the class break, known as the Cutthroat. And one of his fun abilities is to use this skill on a ship he has just successfully disabled:


Ships are hard to come by in PotBS, and they don’t necessarily need to be easy to come buy. Its like having a car in real life – you only need a new one every so often. But if you could get a new one, say, every year…for free…wouldn’t you want one? And that is the life of the Cutthroat. Eh, I’ve had this ship for a whole level – I want a new one! Of course the captured one only has 1 durability point (if you are defeated in combat, the ship is lost permanently), but if you were like me, you kept a stockpile of more than one on hand. Because some days you feel like a gun shooting frigate, and some days you feel like a boarding galleon.

2) “Whatya need? Supplies? Gear? Fireball tossing gems? Lemme summon one for you…” (Magician Class, Everquest/EQOA)

Take a gander at the base spell list, levels 1-65, for the Everquest magician. Notice anything? At level one, three spells, not to hurt things, but to get you food, water, and weapons. Level two: armor and bandages. Level six? A backpack. It gets better: arrows, spears, staves, armor for your mates, armor for you, jewelry, resistance items, mana to hp conversion rods, breathe underwater items, click-to-nuke charged items, weapons/armor/gear for pets. Hell, you can even summon your friends – poof! – to right in front of you. A walking, talking, one man fixer for the masses. The ultimate utility kit.

Everything you see here came from my magic.
Everything you see here came from my magic.

Of course, what killed the class, and the idea it brings to the table, was the move to bring characters home at the end of each night. When your group is logging off in the wilderness at their favorite mob spawn and grinding location, characters like the Magician are a godsend. They help you make camp and bring those basic supplies to keep you rolling longer. But none of those can compare to the rest xp that you get when you port back to town each night. After all, the real reason to camp in the wilderness is to be close to the action and cut down on down time. But double xp more than covers the transit time to your favorite spawn camp – particularly in MMO’s dominated with fast transit.

3) “If you build it, they will come.” (Necromancer Class, Vanguard)

Vanguard was the first MMO to move away from the idea of a simple summoned pet for a pet class. While you could certainly raise the dead in the traditional manner, Vanguard went beyond. You built your own Frankenstein. Dead bodies could be scavenged for parts, constructed and given to your persistent pet, turning it into a powerhouse that grew right along side of you. It dealt with a part of the lore of necromancers that other games had not touched on – that of true grave robber, visionary of giving life to the dead. It was an interesting take and a fun little side quest within the group. After all, what could be more character enriching than the experience of a group pulling down their new loot – sword, staff, or what have you, wild the mad necromancer just smiles and pillages the claws off the dead body, excited not for the gold and silver but the knicknack nobody else even noticed, that will make him that much more powerful.

4) “Dual wielding, healing, teleporting, pet class? Yeah, we got those.” (Disciplines, Shadowbane)

While some fun has been had with Wildstar’s system allowing you to chose a sort of subclass that unlocks new area quests, they don’t change the way your class is played, as Shadowbane’s original discipline system did. You had a base class, and advanced class, and then up to three disciplines you could stack on top of that. The end result was that you could build characters that might both be wizards, but with wildly varying skill rotations, abilities, and out of combat utilities. Both could hit you with a lightning bolt, but one might summon dark lords and dual wield swords, the other might run around healing and buffing his group. And the disciplines ranged from the ho-hum (Enchanter, Archmage) to the interesting (Bladeweaver, Traveler) to the WTF (Ratcatcher, Sundancer, Gorgoi). It was a lesson lost on PvP developers everywhere, who now seem to think that PvP can only be good and balanced if every character can be summed up in a class word and its abilities and strengths and weaknesses determined at a glance. In Shadowbane, those kinds of assumptions got you killed. Fast.

5) Attention! Party on deck! (Crews and Duty Officers, Star Trek Online)

Growing up, my favorite RPG series was Might and Magic. I loved rolling a party (sometimes naming characters after my buds) and having a grand adventure through fantasy, not to mention time and space (because Might and Magic wasn’t complete without laser guns appearing at some point). Later on RPG’s evolved, and you had only one character. And so when MMO’s hit, the same followed. But I miss the party system and the fun that could be had with some…well, what I will call “internal roleplaying” – fan fiction, having the universe personalized and come alive in your own head a little more.

And you know, there is only one MMO right now where you can play a fully fleshed out party of five, and where their skills and yours are usable, and where you can pick their race, class, and personality. And that is Star Trek Online. I mean, if you want to play a classic RPG, STO is sitting right there waiting for you, with fleshed out, well written, hour long quests (er, “episodes”) covering multiple story arcs. And if you want to play with a buddy, like I wanted badly to do with Might and Magic back in the day – team up, and you can each bring half your party (on the ground) or all of it (in space).

Truly, this is one of the under-appreciated aspects of STO. One that is not noticed, much less lauded, often enough.

We come in peace (Shoot  to kill)
We come in peace (Shoot to kill)

If you thought paying for levels was bad…

Next thing you know, they will be handing them out for free.

Oh wait…

free levels

Of course, not all levels were created equal, but there you have it.

Now if we could just convince Sony to give us free levels in Vanguard. I mean, the double XP is nice and all, but I really just want to be able to wander the world unfettered at this point.


Man…I have to be honest, the SOE apocalypse is gut wrenching to watch. I’ve read through the Vanguard closing thread on the forums, and that was some of the most painful shit I’ve ever read. Yes, there are one or two people being assholes, but even with them, they can’t quite get it right because it hurts too much.

The Reddit AMA that happened today is even worse. Think its bad when adults lose their virtual homes? Try reading from the 14 year old girl who has just heard the news. Smed says he will get it worse than everyone though:

Two questions from my 9yo daughter about Free Realms closing down: “Do you think if we played Free Realms more they won’t shut it down?” and “Why?”

[–]j_smedley[S] 30 points 3 hours ago

First off – I have to go home after this and tell my 12 year old daughter Rose that her favorite game is going away. I assure everyone out there that I will catch more grief from her than anyone else. She easily plays the game 20 hours a week (ok stop judging me other gaming parents.. it’s a friendly game for kids). It makes me really sad to shut down FR, but the truth is we need our resources elsewhere right now.

And with that one answer, Smed set virtual fire to the other games. The speculation was already pointed in the direction of EQN, and that all but confirmed it. Now the mob is not only mad that their home is getting shuttered, but any hopes Sony might have had about reeling them in elsewhere just got axed. EQN is going to have a long and bumpy road to success, if it gets there at all.

Perhaps the most amazing thing that came out of all of this was the almost-white-knight-charge of Brad McQuaid, who immediately dropped everything and offered to buy back the IP and the game. The answer:


Damn that was ballsy of him though. I hadn’t planned on giving to the Pantheon kickstarter, but I think I’m going to have to do so now, just as a gesture of thanks for making the effort.

Of course, all of this is just a bit two faced, and I admit that. Its been a good six months since I’ve logged into Vanguard, and it never really grabbed me the way I thought it would last year. The progression was just too damn slow. So on the one hand, I am a contributor to the shut down. I should have put more money and time into the game than I did. And why should I be upset that Vanguard is going under when I was such a lukewarm follower of it? Fair points I guess, but still…

It hurts. And unlike Warhammer and some of the other shutdown titles, where a day or two of nostalgia has been enough, I’m going to have to fire up Fraps and make this exit count.

Because I do love Telon and the vision and the game. I love that this is the last great achievement of Keith Parkinson before his passing. I love that this game had the balls to do things that no other game after it has even dared to attempt. And also, like all of us at some point in life (I suspect), we can fall just as in love with someone or something based on what we hoped it might be as we would based on something that was already what we wanted it to be.


Druids and Reindeer and Telon, Oh My.

So I have ventured back into the land of Telon – the locale for Vanguard: Sage of Heroes.  My sandbox has been here all along, right under my nose.  Telon does not hold your hand, can only loosely be said to have “quest hubs” and generally teaches you early on that even roads are not safe: a lesson not taught by MMO’s since early in the life of WoW.


First things first: Vanguard has aged well.  The silver lining to releasing a game that most computers couldn’t even run way back in 2007 is that the game still looks phenomenal today.




So we’re not talking about a game where you have to squint and ignore the decidedly low calibre background to have some fun.  And second of all, the world is still tremendously large.  The scope of the zones is massive, particularly when you consider the three continents and the zones of pure OCEAN between them all.  If you want to go get lost in a fantasy world – I’m not sure what better place to do it in right now than Telon.


To further open the sandbox, Vanguard dropped all the racial and class restrictions.  So go ahead and help yourself to a Dark Elf Paladin or a High Elf Necromancer or even a Goblin Ranger – you deserve it.   And you can elect to start either on the beginner island (Isle of Dawn) or in your racial home town – unlike some other Sony MMO’s you may have heard of.  And if you do elect for the starter island, when you are done – take a boat ride to any of the three continents – your choice! – to continue your adventure.




Of course there are some downsides.  There is an actualy death penalty, and not just a few durability points on your equipment.  You will lose some xp.  Recover your tombstone (and with it any non-soulbound equipment) and you will recover a very large chunk of it.  I’ve been just irritated enough with it not to go blindly running into anything, but not so irritated that I have rage quit over it.


So far, its been a magical return.  Vanguard was certainly a lumbering beast of a bad game back in the day, but you know what?  Sometimes reindeer really do know how to fly.



Peering Into The Crystal Ball For 2013

I’ve been pondering the new year a bit.  Predictions aren’t terribly fun (for me anyway).  Looking back to last year, I am still stunned at how quickly TOR crashed and burned, both within the gaming sphere and for me personally.  I was schlumping along with my rifle and my companion one day and the next day I just looked around and went…man, is this it?


Certainly doesn't *look* very epic...
Certainly doesn’t *look* very epic…


So I thought maybe instead, I would record everything I am looking forward to in the coming year.  Then I can come back next year with some wisdom and hindsight and laugh and make obscene hand gestures at myself for how dumb or idealistic I was.  I get to write the schtick that so many people seem to eat up, but nobody gets a face-full of pie but myself.  A win-win.


I Am Looking Forward To:


Hearing More About ArcheAge Online and Possible Release Dates


With Russian and American publishers confirmed (but not yet disclosed), we know this wide open sandbox title is headed our way.  We don’t yet know when, thought it’s debut in Korea occurred yesterday.  A few computer done translations of the website yielded no new information, other than there was a brief server outage today that players are being compensated for, and that there are several contests wrapping up and starting off.  And that they are offering, out of the gate, a 10 hour free trial.   That last is interesting – it is rare for new MMO’s to give away trials when they are so desperate for sales.  Its an indication of the game’s confidence level.


no place like home


For those who don’t know any thing about ArcheAge, you can read some of my previous posts on here.  The sandbox elements are what draws me.  The manga/eastern style is probably off-putting to some, but I enjoy the stylized, over-the-top caricatures that it brings with it.  (Nobody seems to get that the whole point of the style is self-depreciating, but that’s a rant for another time I suppose.)  In particular, the idea that your character is comprised of you choice of three of ten skillsets is quite welcome.  Imagine Rift, only you can combine any three souls from any of the classes.   Mostly though, everything about XL Games screams quality, polish and dedication (much like Trion as well I might add).  I’m really looking forward to seeing and hearing more – and, hopefully, getting a chance to play it myself.


Expanding My Tier 10 Garage


I qualified for my free t-shirt by virtue of the fact that I knew from late in Beta that I was going to concentrate most of my time and energy on the American Heavy Tanks line, followed by the Russian Medium Tanks line.  So I already had a T30 in my garage when the changes went down to the US Heavies.  The end result was that my T30 became a tier 9 Tank Destroyer, I got a free copy of the T34 tier 8 premium, and I have the much-in-demand T110E5.  With the addition of tier 10 tanks for every category though, I have been working on getting that T30, along with my T-54 (tier 9 USSR Medium) up to the top of the stables as well.   I am very close.  The T-54 will be wrapped up in the next two weeks, and the T-30 will be done in the next month or so.  I’ve taken a good hard look at what two lines I want to work next, and decided to put my energy towards the two Russian Heavy lines, culminating in the IS-4 and IS-7.  I’ve been saving my Free XP for quite awhile, and I have enough to skip the miserable KV-4 and head directly to the underrated ST-1.   And the IS-3 is getting me XP like I would have never believed.  As much as I have enjoyed (and done fairly well with) US Heavies, the IS-3 fits like a glove.  I have an 85% win rate in it, and it doesn’t look like a First or Ace class Mastery badge is all that far off.


Top to Bottom, Left to Right:  T11oE5, T110E4, T-62A, IS-4, IS-7
Top to Bottom, Left to Right: T11oE5, T110E4, T-62A, IS-4, IS-7


In other words – in a year’s time, my garage of tier 10 tanks will have expanded from one – to five.  Already I’ve started the process of looking at potential Clans for Clan Wars, even as Wargaming announces that they will  be spending a significant amount of resources to expanding and polishing that portion of the end game.


And that’s not all.  I’m also halfway through tier 8 on US Mediums and German Heavies as well.  I could end the year with more than I bargained for.


Nostalgia:  Vanguard


One of the things that I really thought I wanted to do is take some time, perhaps one night a week, or one weekend a month, and visit some familiar places.   But the more I thought about all that I had played or recently played, the only one I really had a passion to go back and visit currently is Vanguard.  The Druid class in the game is one of my all time favorites in terms of gameplay.  And the world of Telon…well, it has the late, great Keith Parkinson’s fingerprints all over it.


I’m curious to see how the game has fared, what the leveling experience is like (I’m in the lower 20’s if I remember correctly), and if they finally fixed the stupid log in bug.  It was still active two years post-launch.   I generally get nostalgic for Vanguard this time of year.  It was at this time that I was playing it, and enjoying the seasonal flying mount (Randolph the Flying Reindeer, of course).  After a few months though, our little group lost its tank, and EVE beckoned with a free trial.


The odd thing about Vanguard, is that as I recall the interviews Brad McQuaid gave about the vision of the game, back in the day, at that time, I said: “No way would I ever play a game like that – too hardcore for me.”   Now though, I look beyond that to some of the things he wanted to implement, and think, wow, how sweet would that be?  Things like having the global chat channel only open to Psionicists, and not at 1st level, but as a later passive ability.   Or that Druids would have high end abilities to control the weather, able to force rain on the server itself.   And even some of those abilities that were implemented – like the Bard crafting its own songs as its slate of abilities – are a breath of fresh air in stale MMO diatribes everywhere.   Many of the things that Vanguard wanted to pull off – boats, housing, diplomacy, detailed crafting systems – are things that are surfacing also in ArcheAge.  Assuming we get it here in North America this year – doing a compare/contrast would be a fairly interesting exploration.


Battlefield 3


Don’t tell my regular Monday night gaming partners…but my interest in BF3 is waning quickly.  After a year of blazing good times in it, and after several expansions, I’m mostly frustrated these days.   I’m done with servers with 1500 spawn tickets, which invariably end with one team spawn camping the other for the last 500 kills.  And I’m just not all that interested in the latest expansion.  If it weren’t for some new maps to hopefully breath some fresh air into the game, I probably wouldn’t buy it at all.  I’ll be curious to see how long this lasts, and what the future brings.  It may be that Nostalgia night replaces Shooter night in the HZero household in 2013.


Star Trek Online


I haven’t logged in since before Christmas.  My guild, whom I was enjoying time with, had stalled out in the building process for our Starbase, and queued a bunch of projects that were dilithium only – and I don’t spend dilithium on things that I can use in game items and currency on.   So I had nothing to do really, other than grind my diplomacy level, and that got old after awhile.   I am watching  closely for the three year anniversay, in high hopes that the Ambasssador Class will finally make it into the game.  And for the release of whatever season finally allows us to use all these bridge officers I have stashed in every corner of my UI and inventory to crew the half dozen ships that are in dry dock right now.  The game is headed in the right direction for sure, but for right now, I’m just not as interested.   But I think its still one of my long term committments – so I’m curious to see how I feel about the game when it nears its four year anniversary!


Smaller Questions…


Will the small indy developed sandboxes of Dawntide and Project Gorgon be revived?  I’d like for them too…

Will some unexpected MMO suck me in this year, much as STO did last year?

Will we finally see some information on Titan or Everquest 3?

Is there any chance of me logging into TOR in 2013?

Will Wildstar be the unmitigated failure I think it will be?


Only time will tell.

Four Years and Counting…

Yeah, I may as well go ahead and post it since Ysh outed me.  Its been a little over four years since I started this fun little adventure.  If I remember right, there are a couple of others who share similar dates. The stats will be a little off since there is an extra month in there, but what the hay – here ya go:

Quick Stats: 

Total Views:  93,987  (41,363 last year, 21,407 or so the year before)

Best Month:   9350 views in May, 2012  (2,947 last January,  2281 the year before)

Busiest Day:  971 views on  May 2nd, 2012 (602 last year, 270  the year before)

Top 5 Posts:  Tips and Tricks for World of Tanks, Naming Your Ship,  TERA Online Review, How Well Will the SWTOR Launch Go? That Depends on How Tolerant You Are, Naming Your Ship 2

Top 3 Most Popular Tags (By Game):  Star Trek Online, EVE Online, World of Tanks

* Note, views to my home page blow all of those away.  This is the up and down of not requiring you to “jump” after a break in the post.

Search  Terms that Make You Go Hmmm:

minecraft hotel lobby  (if you build it, they will come…)

hot jedi  (we’re not that kind of site really)

вестибюль гостиницы (Russian for hotel lobby…apparently I am source zero for hotel lobby information)

otel lobİlerİ (Turkish that time…)

tera character nude (Also about six variations of “tera online sexy” – are people this desperate for porn?)

star wars the old republic nude (I’m seeing a trend here…)

real world controversy (We have that in spades…)

Referrals and Referees:

Top 3 Bloggers Who Helped Me With Traffic:  Nil’s Blog, Bio Break, Stonee’s EQOA Blog

Top 3 Bloggers I Helped With Traffic: GCTAGN, Rowan

Again, theres much bigger numbers in the former than the latter…

Thoughts and Goals:

At this time last year I was still looking for my first level cap.    I got that not long thereafter!  And then once more in April when I did the same in Star Trek Online,  a month after I hit 30.  And STO may be the first game for a multi-cap as well – my Klingon character is a day away from the same Captain milestone.   I have been blessed to have a regular playgroup for a long while.  Starting last June and continuing straight on until this past July, when my little playing group folded its tents in TOR and took a little enforced break while one of the members prepares to head off to basic training, and when my beloved TOR guild shut its doors.  These days I am mostly guild oriented, chatting amiable with my 12th Fleet and Knights of Mercy friends, or some of that old Beskar crew in World of Tanks.  Sadly though – guild oriented does not always equal group oriented.

My vision this year is tilted backwards.  The only MMO I am looking forward to is ArcheAge, and there is little evidence that it will land here in the next year.  And my Beta stuff has slowed down – only one I’m actively involved in at the moment is MechWarrior Online, and for my two cents, once you take people’s money for the game, its not a Beta anymore, no matter what you want to classify it as.

That said, there are several games I want to revisit this year – EVE Online, and Vanguard.  Pirates of the Burning Sea and maybe a stint in Everquest, since I never could bring myself to log in and say goodbye to EQOA.


MMO’s: Rift (3 months), TOR (7 months), The Secret World (2 months), TERA Online (1 month), GW2 (1 month), STO (7 months), Istaria (1 month)

Other Online:  WoT (12 months), WoWP (2 months), MWO (1 month), Stronghold Online (1 month)

Alphas/Betas:  Dawntide, Heroes and Generals, MWO, WoWP

Table Top/RPG:  Call of Cthulhu, Mansions of Madness, Anima: The Card Game, Anima RPG, Hellas RPG, Houses of the Blooded RPG


Thanks to the Casualties of War crew for keeping the wheels turning all these years, especially Genda’s hard work, though I do miss his blogging (poke, poke).   Thanks also to my wonderful – dare I say – online family in Beskar, who made the last two years so fun.  And thank you to KoM and 12th Fleet for taking me in – here’s to the future.    And a big thank you, and congratulations to my brother and his then-fiance-now wife, for helping me make so many of my gaming dreams come true in the last year.  Big ups playa.

Should Vanguard Go F2P?

This started as a comments discussion on The Ancient Gaming Noob’s page about EQ2’s move to F2P, and is quickly expanding.  And my general rule is: your blog, you get the last word.  Its a reasonable assumption, and I think Wilhelm made his points well.  But I want to continue to expand my thoughts on the subject.  And here, I get the last word! Bwahaha!

@HZ – But you’re missing the point. That there is little in the way of downside is nice, but there is no real pay off likely for investing in Vanguard. And without a pay off, what is the point?

Do you really believe that if Vanguard went to this new model, that it would attract enough new players to not only pay for all the work and additional overhead, but would also make a profit on top of that.

…Vanguard, like a lot of games, has a small, loyal following, but it is never going to have more than that. Be happy that SOE keeps it alive at all.

…The game is not poised for success, lacking only in customers. It is a basket case and, having gone back to play it again in April, it still feels about like it did on day one.*

I don’t really care at this point whether or not Sony keeps it or tosses it, because I’m not a subscriber, and I won’t be unless something changes.  Not that I hate Vanguard (there’s few, okay, maybe no MMO’s that I just plain hate) but its not worth $15 a month – primarily because of the lack of playerbase.  This was, as I see it, the same problem that DDO faced before it went F2P.

Basically the quote above makes three assumptions to reach its conclusion.  We’ll take them one at a time:

Assumption #1:  Transitioning Vanguard to F2P requires a significant investment of time, money, and energy.

I believe this is a false assumption.  What resources are needed to make Vanguard F2P?  We can be reasonably certain that Sony did not decide to make the jump to F2P for EQ2 until they saw the success of DDO.  And DDO’s success was not certain until signaled by Turbines willingness to move LotRO to F2P.  That move came less than two months ago – and EQ2 F2P is already up and running as an Alpha, with Beta coming in 3 weeks time.  If Sony can roll out an entire reboot of EQ2 in that time period, there can be no real argument for what little work would need to go into Vanguard.  Even with far less developers supporting it!

Assumption #2:  Sony would only undertake this venture if it guarenteed profitability for Vanguard

The game is on the ropes, and we all know that.  Current players on the official forums have noted that the game has even less developer support than Matrix Online did before they axed it.  It looks like there may soon be a server merge down to one server, etc.  But Sony – well, say what you will about them, they have a long history of keeping games afloat long after their profitability has passed as a gift to gamers.  A good example would be EQOA.  The PS2 variant of Everquest that I cut my MMO teeth on in 2003 is still up, running, and live.  You cannot in any way convince me that there are enough people there for the game to be profitable, yet it trudges onwards.  So what does Sony have to lose in Vanguard by making a change?  Is it somehow possible that Vanguard would make *less* money if it went F2P?  I can’t imagine that it would.  And even if it did – Sony is already losing money on it, so, what’s the big deal?

Assumption #3:  Vanguard is still only a half-completed game, without the polish and content of DDO

Whew.  I’m not sure what to do with this one.  It was buggy at times when I last played, which was GU #4, but that was over two years ago, and even then, it wasn’t buggy enough that I cancelled my sub because of it, and I CTD more often in EVE than I ever did in Vanguard…

As for content – the one thing I never lacked for in Vanguard was content.  Our little group of three actually was divided for awhile on what content we should be tackling because we had so many choices.  Some of the dungeons, in particular the outdoors one for level ~15 on Qalia, was magnificent.  And you already have prebuilt avenues for revenue in the game – player owned housing, player owned boats, flying mounts, etc.  Each continent is really self contained for quests, etc.  So you could even limit the game that way as well.

So I cannot in any way characterize the game as a basket case.  It works, it works well, and its fun to play and gorgeous to look at.  Furthermore, I can’t imagine that DDO was “poised for success” when it went F2P.  The complaints about DDO were numerous and serious enough that its one of the only major MMO’s that I’ve never tried even on a trial basis!  Amazing isn’t it how those complaints were reduced in light of opening the gates for free play?  We can easily blow downsides out of proportion when we can’t find ways to work around them or live with them – and that can only happen if you are playing the game.  With Vanguards content and player options, I would think there would be enough upside there to entice players into at trying it – not unlike many people’s feelings about DDO when it made this transition.

Bottom Line:  I don’t buy into the assumptions.

I think there are some reasons why Sony decided not to go F2P with Vanguard – probably biggest among them being whatever Live Gamers contract they had for the Exchange in Vanguard.  Perhaps they are still thinking that the games hardware requirements are too steep to intice a large audience.  This may have some truth to it, but I think the game’s requirements are no longer as steep as they once were, given the advances in graphics and core processors in the last couple of years.   But I could still respect that as a legitimate concern in the process.

I think another reason is that Sony didn’t feel like they needed to test the waters, because they felt Turbine had already done this for them.  So they went ahead and jumped in the deep end of the F2P pool.  That may come back to haunt them later on.  Ultimately though I think that this is an issue of corporate shortsightedness.  There is nothing to be lost really by making Vanguard F2P, but they don’t think they will lose anything from EQ2 either.  That too, may be problematic.  Why?

From my viewpoint this is kind of a loss for Sony.  Their flagship game, that I have spent over $100 on this year just made a move that will insure that I don’t spend any money on it next year.  While their game that I would enjoy shelling out for a silver membership + some cash shop upgrades continues to remain out of reach.  The loss for Sony is our gain though, for the time being.  I fully intend to play the heck out of a free EQ2 this fall.  And who knows, maybe if  successful, it will entice them to open up Vanguard as well.

* TAGN is one of my favorite bloggers.  I’ve used his comments as a jumping off point for this post, but I have respect for him and do not intend this as a personal attack.

Vanguard Fail or Genius?

So I hear that Vanguard is offering up free time, and that no one seems to have known about it.  I know I had no idea, and I’ve been logged into my SOE account quite recently for PotBS (which I spent most of the weekend playing, sorry EVE fans!).   So I check my email – nothing there, and nothing in the spam folder.  My email is connected to my account and verified, but I still got nothing.  I check the Vanguard forums…nothing.  I check the update notes.  No, nothing there either but some rather interesting changes.

So I figure this is failure on a high level for SOE, which is not all that unusual.  But then I think some more.  Maybe the goal, with the ripples from the closure of Matrix Online, is to get a clear measure of players who really want to be in Vanguard.  Should they close it?  If they offer free time under the table, who is watching?  And who will come back?  And what will they say about the level cap being raised, the changes to combat and the class and racial skills?

In other words, what kind of buzz can Vanguard generate as a baseline, grassroots movement.  So far, given the number of blogs suddenly talking Vanguard again, I’m guessing that if that was the goal, it was success.

Whether or not that was the intention though…whew, I’m doubting it.  But maybe that’s just because I’m jaded at this point.