Well, it has been a while since we have shown any signs of life here at Vanguard Forever but this weeks news has given Ardwulf and I the proverbial “Pimp Slap”; waking us from our mundane lives and refocused our attention on our beloved land of Telon.
As Ardwulf has posted, Vanguard got the shocking news a few days ago that it will be going Free To Play by this summer. Though very few details have been released, we have been told that SOE is very likely to hold to the F2P Model used in their other games they have switched from subscriptions. A new Producers Letter was posted on the VGPlayers website and it detailed a couple of the new Developers the Vanguard Community were told about a few weeks ago. At least one should be a familiar red name to long-standing players: Salim “Silius” Grant has returned to the team under the title of Creative Director. Our new Community Rep on the forums, Zatozia has informed us that there are more than the three names listed in the P. L. and in the coming weeks they will be releasing some spotlight articles on the forums / site to introduce each of the members of the team, telling us their backgrounds and responsibilities working on Vanguard.
Silius has wasted little time making his presence known on the forums, which I think is a good thing as long as he and the rest of the team can keep from answering in one word or one liner replies. Such things in the past, even though they might have been meant as witty or humorous usually ended up sounding condescending and ended up angering the community instead of uplifting it.
That is not to say that Silius’ comments have been totally positive so far. He outlined that no new content will be released to the live servers till the move to Free To Play has been completed, rescinding the previous promises we were given on two major content updates before the end of the Fiscal Year. Though I am sure most at this point did not fully believe we would see both updates, but it was expected that at least the City of Brass dungeon would be released to hold the players over while we wait. Another troubling comment to me was Silius’s apparent confusion over one posters comment about the difficulties with Vanguards “Spaghetti Code” in relation to switching to Free To Play without breaking anything already in the game. Mr. Grant should well know how they have failed yet to patch or add anything to the game that did not break at least two or three other things, sometimes drastically. The term has long been used to describe how terrible the original coders left the game engine after trying to warp the Unreal Engine into something suitable for an MMO.
Another good thread on the forums asks “How would You implement Free To Play?” Most seem to want / expect something similar to the way SOE has done their other games and I am sure that is what is going to happen. The main points of speculation are exactly what limitations we will see for the free players, or Bronze if you go by their other F2P games.
I myself am kinda meh on race class restrictions and such. I have all my toon slots filled already and I would love a chance to buy more slots so I can finish off the few classes I do not already have, so that would be the only way I would be concerned over not having access to a certain Race/Class. As long as I can purchase what I do not have though, and the price is reasonable (I still have some left over Station Cash from the SOE Hacks) I do not mind paying for it. I do not fear not being able to play the toons I already have, after testing out EQ2 and finding that my old toons from before the F2P move were still there and playable, even the ones with Race/Class restrictions for free players. Some other MMO’s that have made the switch for F2P have not done that, rendering me unable to play my old toons and as such I have not returned to their games since even though I enjoyed them and still would like to play.
I would say that one thing I do not hope to see restricted that people have mentioned was done in other SOE games is the chat channels. Vanguard more than most other games is dependent upon groups to run the majority of the content, especially for some of the classes. Limiting access to chat could fatally hamper new players ability to find the groups they need and that will just make all the work going F2P a waste of time.
Lastly I would like to comment on Ardwulf’s remarks on removing Randolph the eyesore of a flying mount. Just about all of the community can agree that he does not fit in with the game and should be removed, and Giddoo remarked on the deer’s fate I believe when he discussed a new low-level quest line to be added to the game giving the players a flying mount close to the level range of level 20. I am fuzzy of the exact details, feel free to correct me on the specifics but I want to say it was to be some type of dragon as well or that could just be my wishful thinking. Anyway, I agree it should be removed but not before the new mount is made available to the player base. A low-level flying mount brings more to the game I think than it breaks and if fears of players exploiting certain content the dev’s can easily enough add in some detractors like some flying mobs that attacks you or ground based mob with a ranged attack to knock you out of the safety of the air and keep you from sneaking past content meant to be a fun challenge.
I mainly do not want to see a repeat of the fiasco that was the “Bringing the Sexy back” change to facial customization a few years ago where we were left with some pretty horrendous looking toons for around four months while the dev team worked to get a way to bring visible helms to the game. I do not remember if we had a test server back then or not, but that is where such things should have been worked on, leaving the players with their characters intact and customized how they had come to love them until the change was fully worked out and ready to be pushed to live.
This has grown long in the tooth, so I will end it here and save thoughts and discussions on possible directions Vanguard could take if/when Free To Play is finished and a booming success. Who knows, that might even be good material for a new Podcast episode or two ….
Take care and see you on the Seas and Planes of Telon.