SOE Live Oct. 18 – 21- 2012

News dropped yesterday that SOE’s annual Convention has opened up for registrations. Once again it will be held in Las Vegas at the Bally Casino. To better reflect ALL of SOE’s titles the con has changed names from Fan Faire to SOE Live …… hmm, yeah I know gives you the shrug and scratch your head whatever feeling doesn’t it.

I am all for them giving more attention to all of their games at Fan … erm Live, but I think they could have kept the old name as it is quite Iconic and adequtely describes the focus; a place for the Fans to gather and socialize with others who enjoy the same games. I just hope that this time around Vanguard gets more than a lack-luster attempt at recognition. With SWG gone perhaps this will be the case. Considering Vanguards move to Free 2 Play somewhere around that time period, that in itself should warrent some time in the spotlight.

Reading the forums associated with the announcement, it seems that you may want to wait a day or so before rushing to get your hotel booked (but I wouldn’t wait too long) as some who have already flooded the links have stated the hotels reservations for the days of the con seem to be absent from the availability list. I am sure it is just the Hotel not having the special code for the con setup yet for I can not see that many people having already swarmed in and booked up the whole cons slots.

I had planned to attend PAX East this year, but some issues have come up that might make that impossible even though I am holding my passes in my hand. Sniffles…. If that trip does fall through, then I have a nice head start already on savings for a road trip to Vegas. Lets face it, the opportunity to meet the team on Vanguard, party, and get material for some possible VF Podcasts, oh and did I mention Party? If I do get to attend Fan …. uhm, SOE Live I hope Ardwulf gets to come as well.

It would be great to hang out, hmm perhaps even some live recordings for VF Podcasts? Live Interviews? For sure we will have to get Brasse to pose for some pics with us, preferably of her beating us over the head with her Ale Stein.

How many of you are old Fan Faire Vets, or newbies like me looking to attend for the first time? Post below your comments and stories of past events. Dont worry, like Vegas – What happens on Vanguard Forever, stays on Vanguard Forever ….. really …. you can trust me!

Check out all the news and discussions HERE.

Vanguard Reborn

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.

Vanguard’s Roadmap to New Content

It has been some time since the news that Vanguard: Saga of Heroes will be getting some love in the form of two content updates by the close of this years Fiscal Year for SOE. The long silence has caused spouts of worrying to pop up (like weeds in your garden) on the forums. Cries for status updates are starting to turn into conspiracies that it was all just a hoax or some experiment to see if/how many people they could get to open up subscriptions with news of renewed updates.

Naylie has posted several times that the roadmap is still being worked on and that it has taken longer than they liked cause of changes being made to what was on the list. That settled things down for a while, but as the silence stretched on more naysayers have started becoming vocal. One thread even saw some heavy post deletions for Trolling.

What I wanted to relate to you all is Naylie’s latest post updating the roadmap project, specifically:

Naylie wrote:

Unfortunately the plan is still be re-worked. They sort of had a plan and then a change was made to it so now they have to re-figure out what is happening. Yes they are working on things and yes it is going slower than they anticipated. We really hope to have the plan settled. Once it is settled the Developers have agreed to be on a podcast to talk about it.

The last sentence left me in such a giddy titter I had to look around to make sure none had heard my unmanly girlish squeal. Ok, maybe I wasn’t affected that bad but it did get me excited and a little nervous as well. I am fairly new to Podcasting and am not sure how great my interview skills are. I do far better with writing than I do with speech. I only know of one podcast out there currently that is talking about Vanguard, and I did ask Naylie about such a possibility of getting the Dev’s to come on our show. Vanguard Forever wasn’t specifically named so I won’t guarantee that it was us that the comment was aimed at and I won’t be upset if it turns out to be someone else. I fully support any and all who work to expand and better the Vanguard community and I will be happy to sit in the general audience if another cast gets the interview.

Head on over to the following link to read the complete thread and stay up to date on further developments.

Orc and Goblin Racial Starter Quests

During our discussion, and in some of the comments for the first Episode of the Vanguard Forever Podcast the debate arose over the Isle of Dawn starter area versus the original, racial starter zones arose. Some like the Isle and some prefer the original zones for the background lore of your race they provide.

I here and in follow-up articles will present you with a third option… both! I like going to the Isle because the gear you get looks better (and you get to start out with a cloak which in the regular game you do not see till around your 20′s I believe) and you get wrist trinket item that gives some nice buffs and improves every ten levels. With the cosmetic tab now in the game, even after you get better gear (stat wise at least) you can still keep the nice look you get from the Isle.

After leaving the Isle, I then like to head over to my race’s old starter zones and track down the quest givers to get the awesome background story that you miss out on the Isle. This can be a problem for a new player who starts on the Isle, as when you rift from the Isle you are only given three options, one quest hub area for each of the three continents in the game. From there it is easy to rift again to the zone your race starts in, but only if you know what that is. How are you supposed to know that, you ask? Well you could try to search it out on the internet, but the best I have come up with is a link that shows what city each race ends up at in the starter quest line but not who the NPC is that gives the first quest.

Fret not that your time spent on the Isle was wasted and your goal of learning the lore of your people is lost to you for all time. I shall now guide you on to the proper path and the journey starts with the Orcs and Goblins as they share (like a few races do) starter quests. First, lets look at the splash screen when you first enter.

Orc and Goblin Starter Lore

So you start your life of a hero as a slave? Yes, you a captive on board a rival clan, the Gulgrethor’s raid ship. Your luck is changing though, for your enemy are attacking your people and a goblin named Hrinka Tzin helps you out of your chains.

Travel to the Northern tip and a boat on the shore

Sounds good you say, but how does this help you find this person if you just left the Isle? Well you will have to take a Rift stone to the Continent of Kojan, to the farthest you can go to the North. Martok is the Orc captial and I believe the closest Rift Stone is to the South of Martok and you need to be at the far northern point of the island.

As part of the deal for setting you free, you have to agree to release another prisoner before making your escape. You will have to kill a slaver for his key first, then make your way past the fighting on the beach and report to Krar. There are Martok and Gulgrethor NPC’s fighting it out on the beach. As you make your way South towards freedom enemies spawn in front of you, which you have to fight alone while the slave you freed watches. So much for the mighty battle lust of the Orc, eh?

You stumble into a small Martok camp and find Skar Krar waiting, he quickly sends you back out on the beach to thin the Gulgrethor ranks and exact some revenge for your enslavement. Eight kills later he sends you on to find your trainer. Now as you have (if you have done the Isle of Dawn starter area) you might be able to skip the trainer part. If not talking to him should turn in the quest and give you one to find Warden Grizzik.

Grizzik wants you to gather five Bonemender Charms, found on Bonemenders to the North. After gathering them you are instructed to use the charms to heal some wounded Martok warriors. You will have to drag the charm from your inventory to an empty hotbar slot, then you can click on it while targeting a wounded Orc to use it.

Returning to Grizzik, he is worried that the attack is just a cleaver ploy and wants you to head East and find a spy he sent out and has not heard from. So strap on your boots and move out looking for Agent Narglok.

On the road you find the spy’s assistant, Jinjax and learn that the attack is a feint for the real attack but fear not for Narglok has a plan. Jinjax gives you directions to his masters camp and ushers you on. Narglok puts your right to work, killing local frogs and harvesting their skins for a potion that will aid in sneaking past the guard dogs around the Gulgrethor camp. Then with the elixir doffed and wrapped in invisibility, you head into the camp to slay some surveyors while Narglok investigates to the East. You turn into a green ghost while the potion is activated so you know it is working, and if you happen to die and need another one you can just retalk to Narglok and get another potion.

Victorious, you return to Narglok to learn that there is a second invasion force on the North Eastern beach. You have to search this new encampment, killing Invaders and Warmongers while looking for the invasion plans. Once you locate the plans and return to Narglok you discover there is an enemy base to the South across the lake. Narglok thinks it would be suicidal to charge through the front and suggests you swim across and sneak in. You have to slay their Commander, Krajin and take his medallion to Warden Grizzik.

Grizzik doesn’t believe that Krajin is involved until he sees the medallion then he grows worried for Krajin was the Lieutenant of Loth and Loth’s involvement means trouble for Martok. You are sent on to warn the Veenax Garrison, ordered to deliver a scroll to Grand Scar Rathsuno. After agreeing to pass on your report in due time, Rathsuno puts you to work bolstering the resources of the Okami Riders, for new mounts will be needed by Martok in the coming fight.

So, it is time to kill some pigs (what did you think you was going to escape a low-level MMO quest without having to carve some bacon?) so their hides can be made into a harness for a Ghostfang. You end up with enough leather for two harness and are sent to tame and bring back two Okami Ghostfang wolves. You have to leash them and lead them back one at a time, talking to Rathsuno to deliver.

Vise Karnag, leader at Veenex Garrison has gotten your report by the time you are finished and wants to meet you. The Garrison is the first outpost where you can pickup sides quests other than the starter storyline, but for this I will bypass them. Karnag for example also has the tutorial quest for Diplomacy.

Karnag warns that if you want to join (or rejoin as it were) Clan Martok you have to pass his tests. First on the list is to find a pack of Shademane Okami and use some rancid meat to draw out the pack leader and slay it. Then take its heart to Warseer Grenik. Grenik is just to the right inside the wall surrounding the building Karnag is in.

Warseer Grenik

You are going to use the heart to make your War Fetish. Since you did not grow up in Martok you will need it to join the clan. You need some Pristine Serpent Feathers and some Hillcat Fangs to complete the fetish. This quest has multiple locations and to select which one to track on your minimap and direction compass press the L key to bring up your quest log.

You can click to change your focus for quest tracking

Now you must take your talisman to a graveyard and catch a Worthy Spirit to empower your fetish. This can be tricky cause the graveyard is a small area with easily aggro’ed Mobs and fast respawn timers. Your target is the yellow named “Lost Worthy Spirit.” Clear out the red named mobs then use the talisman to catch your prize. Once again adding the talisman to a spot on your hotbar to make it easier to use.

Orc greaveyards can be a dangerous place

Back to Grenik, who examines the fetish and once satisfied announces you have to return the spirit to Ghalan, the God of the Orcs and Goblins. You are sent to the Altar of Ghalan to perform the ceremony. Using the talisman at the Altar causes the spirit to manifest and attack you, please Ghalan with your fighting skill by defeating the spirit. I am not sure but I think the huge axe in the wall at the Altar is the Axe of Ghalan, which you will learn about later on.

The Altar of Ghalan

After returning to Grenik you are deemed worthy to attempt the Trials of Grakkor. That’s right, after doing all of this you still haven’t started the actual trials yet but now it gets interesting as you are about to start to learn the Lore behind the Orcs and Goblins of Martok. You are sent to the base of Grakkor Mountain to speak with Warseer Joonta for instructions on your trial. Joonta sends you west into the mountains, instructing you to look for the entrance to the Fanx Caverns and Warseer Fezzik who will guide you along the path of your trial.

The Fanx Caverns

In these caverns you will learn much of the History of the Orc Clans and Martoks youngest Hero, Grakkor. You will be retracing the steps Grakkor himself took during the first Gulgrethor invasion years ago. First you are to read three tablets in the room with Fezzik, be sure and remember as much details as possible cause afterwards Fezzik will quiz you on what you learned.

Study hard, there will be a quiz

After answering correctly, Fezzik sends you on to the next cavern, where you have to slay the beasts within and loot some nests for materials to be used as tender and fuel for your beacon fire. The passage leading up to the next cavern after gathering all you need is next to the path you took into this cavern.

The second cave is green and looks a little like a swamp, you have to stick your hands in the stumps to collect some wood beast eggs. It seems the yoke of the eggs are extremely flammable, that must make for one interesting omelet! After collecting one small, medium, and large eggs climb up the next tunnel and talk to Fezzik again.

The last cavern you have to slay ten Gulgrethor Orcs, fighting your way up the winding ledge till you get to the shade of the great wyrm Grakkor slew years ago. The shade is guarding an Orb you need called the Heart of Flame. Get the Orb and continue up the passage and talk to Fezzik at the exit.

The Shade guards the Heart of Flame Orb

Because you were captured and made a slave by the Gulgrethor you have to prove yourself to the spirit of Grakkor himself in a fight. Defeating him will gain you the Shard of Grakkor and acceptance to light your beacon at the top of the Mountain. Fezzik is waiting for you at the base of the Altar of Martok and gives you your completed bundled items you collected to light your fire.

The Beacon of Martok

Light your fire

You walk up the steps and light your bundle, sending a shaft of light high into the sky that any players nearby can see, proclaiming your worth as a clansman of Martok. Fezzik is waiting at the bottom of the stairs and he performs a cleansing ritual, removing the stains and pains of your past. You lose consciousness and wake up at the base of the mountain. Standing before you is Warseer Kurbad who congratulates you and sends you on to Gaxton Village and the true start of your adventures as a member of the Martok clan.

Why do I suddenly get the urge to watch the Thundercats?