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Vanguard

Some Assembly Required: Your home is your castle on Vanguard's Thestra

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Some Assembly Required, Housing, Player-Generated Content, Sunsets

Some Assembly Required:  Your home is your castle on Vanguard's Thestra
In a painful twist of fate, this week's scheduled Some Assembly Required wraps up the trilogy on Vanguard: Saga of Heroes housing that began with my first piece for this column highlighting Kojani homes way back in 2011. I say painful because we now know that Vanguard will be closing its doors forever come July 31st. But that leaves us six more months to enjoy what's there, and since we've already seen the oriental homes of Kojan and the desert dwellings of Qalia, it's time to take a tour of Thestra.

The European-flavored continent was the final of the three to visit not because it is somehow less than the other two but because it is more -- as in more land to cover! The main reason I left Thestra for last is because of the sheer size of the continent. The amount of time required to visit just a fraction of the housing settlements scattered throughout this land is daunting. The other reason is that I wanted to end on a bang with my favorite style of guild housing: the castles!

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The Stream Team: Celebrating Vanguard's seventh birthday

Fantasy, Video, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Anniversaries, The Stream Team

Today is Vanguard's birthday, and Massively's MJ is going to party! While it's true the game won't make it to see another year pass by, that's all the more reason to celebrate all that is great about it now. MJ will scour the lands looking for anniversary events, tour favorite places, and hang out with fellow players. There are still six months to enjoy Telon, and MJ plans on doing just that -- starting right now. Join us live at 8:00 p.m. to party hearty. Perhaps you'll even see some of the snowmen stalkers, giant frogs, or a massive pink dragon!

Game: Vanguard
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Thursday, January 30th, 2014
Time: 8:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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The Guild Counsel: Guild-friendly Vanguard features I know I'll miss

Fantasy, Guilds, Opinion, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, The Guild Counsel

When the news of Vanguard's sunsetting broke, I got thinking about what best describes the Vanguard experience to those who didn't play it. And the one feature that sums it up best is the /rope command. When the game launched, it came with more than a few bugs, and one nagging problem was that players would get stuck in the terrain or even fall through the world. To help solve the problem, players could target the stuck player and use the /rope command to summon him out and up to their spot. Much of Vanguard was like that: moments of frustration from bugged content, but also moments of teamwork and community pulling together to make it work.

Vanguard was the diamond in the rough that never got polished. It was a gorgeous world, with some hints of truly innovative gameplay, but it was often overshadowed by intrinsic problems at the core of the game. Despite it all, Vanguard has one of the best communities around, and there were many ways in which the game brought players and guilds together. Let's look at what will be missed in this week's Guild Counsel.

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Field Journal: Making peace with Vanguard

Fantasy, Lore, PvE, Opinion, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Roleplaying, Sunsets, MMORPG, Field Journal

Always, I wanna chat with you, and make a pact with you, and live in diplomacy! Diplomacy! Oh mobs!
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes is a weird game. It seems almost purposefully to have been designed to turn away players before they can get a chance to see any of the good in it. Although I've tried it before, I've only recently been able to find some of that good, much to my even more recent dismay.

One of those good things I've found is the Diplomacy system. There's nothing revolutionary about it, but it is a solid and interesting minigame that stands apart from anything most MMOs offer. It's more than just a minigame, though; it's integrated with other systems to create a distinct and worthwhile approach to playing the game apart from adventuring. What makes a simple, card-based tug-of-war all that? I'll try to explain.

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The Daily Grind: Which of the recent SOE shutdowns will prove the most influential?

Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Vanguard, The Daily Grind

Vanguard drake moon
SOE is putting down four of its MMOs this year, and while this has been discussed to death here and elsewhere over the past few days, one thing I haven't seen is any chatter about the legacies -- good or bad -- of Vanguard, Free Realms, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Wizardry Online.

So, let's talk about that now. Which of these four games do you think will prove the most influential in the long run? Why?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Free for All: Thoughts on SOE's mass MMO sunset

Fantasy, Screenshots, Opinion, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Casual, Free Realms, Kids, Free for All, Clone Wars Adventures, Wizardry Online

Free Realms screenshot
Sony Online Entertainment recently announced the upcoming closure of not one or two but four of its titles. Those titles are Free Realms, Clone Wars Adventures, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, and Wizardry Online. The announcement hit most of us pretty hard, even those who weren't active or interested players. Four titles just feels much more like a move of desperation than one or even two games. And for players like yours truly, MMOs like Free Realms and especially Vanguard hold a very special place in our hearts.

Having said that, I will never wager solely on perception. It's my guess that SOE does indeed know what it is doing and that some of this is due to licensing issues, new games from similar developers, or an attempt to streamline an already fat lineup in order to get ready for one or two massive new titles. In other words, there is no conspiracy. It's most likely that this decision was due to boring old business.

I decided to break down what each game meant to me in the hopes that the confessional will get me ready for the upcoming sunsets. Here's to hoping.

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Norrathian Notebook: Saying goodbye to EQ 2.5 aka Vanguard

Fantasy, MMO Industry, Opinion, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Sunsets, Norrathian Notebook

Norrathian Notebook:  Saying goodbye to EQ 2.5 aka Vanguard
No, your eyes are not deceiving you: The title and picture do both say Vanguard. Although I had other thoughts poised on the end of my pen for today, they've all been scattered to the winds by the unexpected announcement of the closing of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. In fact, I really can't seem to think of anything else right now, so I am giving up trying and giving in to my Telon thoughts. Besides, ruminating on this topic in Norrathian Notebook is not as far-fetched as you might think. Vanguard's world may be Telon instead of Norrath, but there is a special connection between the realms; there are those who have called Vanguard the true successor to the original EverQuest game. And it is from that vantage that I take this time to look back on what was, enjoy what is (while I can), and mourn for what could have been.

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The Daily Grind: How much would you pay to keep an MMO alive?

Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind

Vanguard
So here's something that bothers me about this whole SOE MMO armageddon thing. When CEO John Smedley took to Twitter to sympathize with upset Vanguard fans yesterday, he implied that the firm has done all it could to keep the long-running fantasy MMO afloat. "I realize the Vanguard players are upset," he tweeted. "We waited a long time to do this and ran it well past economic viability."

The phrase "past economic viability" is odd since SOE has literally been giving Vanguard away for nearly two years now. The other part of the equation that doesn't add up is why SOE -- or any other firm that insists on closing down a license-free MMO -- doesn't first reach out to the affected playerbase and offer them a chance to save the day.

It might go something like this. "Dear Vanguard player, we thank you for your support and we regret to inform you that the game is not doing well financially. In order to avoid shutting it down, we require you and every other current player to pay a $50 monthly subscription fee."

Sure, 50 bucks is an arbitrary number that I just made up and a large number for an MMO sub. But can anyone credibly state that loyal players wouldn't gladly pay $50 or more if it meant saving their game? How would we know since no MMO company can be bothered to try it? Which leads in to today's Daily Grind question. How much would you pay to keep your favorite MMO alive?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

SOE shuttering Vanguard, Clone Wars, Free Realms, and Wizardry [Updated]

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Free Realms, Wizardry Online, Sunsets

SOE logo
SOE is closing down four of its MMOs. Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures and Free Realms will close on March 31st. Vanguard and Wizardry Online will bow out on July 31st.

"At Sony Online Entertainment, we are always evaluating our portfolio to ensure we're providing players with the best gameplay experiences," the company said via press release. "At times, as part of this commitment, we have to make the difficult decision to sunset a game so we can refocus our resources on other areas in the best interest of our company and player community."

SOE CEO John Smedley will be fielding questions on Reddit at 6:00 p.m. EST. We'll update you with the link when it's live.

[Update]: Smedley's Reddit AMA

The Stream Team: Dungeon Tours visits Vanguard's High Elves

Fantasy, Video, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team

Dungeon Tours is slowly sweeping across Vanguard's European-esque continent of Thestra. After last week's stop with the Vulmane, Massively's MJ moves on to adventure through the starter dungeon for the High Elves of Leth Nurae. The city of Leth Nurae itself imbues all who enter with peace, but Arcanium lies just outside of the city limits and those blissful feelings don't follow those who venture there. If you haven't visited Arcanium, a dungeon for levels seven through 12, now is your chance. Join us live at 12:00 p.m. to to see what secrets hide within.

Game: Vanguard
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Saturday, January 18th, 2014
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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Vanguard's Cave of Wonders releases today

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Endgame, News Items, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

What once was lost is back again: Vanguard's Cave of Wonders, present back in beta but nixed from the launched version, has returned! And devs have not only excavated this long-buried cave but reworked it to fit the current lore and add all-new raid mechanics. In this next step in the City of Brass plot, players will enter the first wing of the Cave of Wonders and take on four new bosses in 24-man raids. This cavern reopens today, filled with treasures (and all-new raid gear) for those willing to brave the dangers. For a peek into the cave, check out the six new screenshots in the gallery below.

The Stream Team: Returning to Thestra's dungeons in Vanguard

Fantasy, Video, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team

No matter where you start in Vanguard, there are plenty of dungeon experiences right from the get-go. And in this next edition of Dungeon Tours, Massively's MJ heads back to Thestra to the Vulmane starting area of Dahknarg to show off the first dungeon awaiting the wolf-like race. Slated for the solo adventurer between level 7 and 11, the dungeon can be done alone or with friends. As most of the lowest dungeons go quickly, MJ might also swing by Arcanium in Leth Nurae, home of the High Elves. Join us live at 12:00 p.m. for this next stop on the tour.

Game: Vanguard
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Saturday, January 11th, 2014
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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SOE considering an one-subscription-covers-all plan for $14.99 a month

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Business Models, Economy, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Free Realms, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, PlanetSide 2, Dragon's Prophet, Wizardry Online, Subscription

EQN
SOE President John Smedley took to Reddit today to address the "fear, uncertainty, and doubt" that's been swirling about regarding the subscription changes made to its games, most notably PlanetSide 2 and EverQuest II. While he lists several reasons why the studio is doing this, the main reason is a big change in the works: SOE is considering implementing a one-subscription-covers-all plan moving forward.

"We are considering (and are likely going to move forward with) a plan that means if you subscribe to one of our games you are a subscriber to all our games (this applies to PC titles only, by the way) all for the current $14.99 a month," Smedley wrote. "That's a benefit most companies simply can't offer because they don't have our portfolio of games. The goal would be to let you pick an item in each game you play."

He implied that this plan will also cover EverQuest Next Landmark and EverQuest Next. Other reasons for the subscription change include helping players buy larger items on the marketplace, internal issues regarding people stockpiling Station Cash, and disparity between computer and console promotions.

For a more in-depth look at the subscription plan changes, read our recent Norrathian Notebook column.

The Stream Team: Touring Vanguard's first dungeons on Kojan

Fantasy, Video, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team

So far the dungeons of Vanguard have been confined to caves, but that's not always the case. In fact, some dungeon experiences are right out in the open! So it is with the first low-level dungeon on Kojan, Vaelwyn Citadel. Join Massively's MJ as she travels to Ca'ial Brael and works her way through first the Citadel and then Glade of the Lost. As a bonus, the two dungeons are close to each other! This next tour departs promptly at 3:00 p.m., so don't miss it.

Game: Vanguard
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Thursday, December 26th, 2013
Time: 3:00p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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The Stream Team: Visiting Vanguard's lowest-level dungeons on Qalia

Fantasy, Video, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team

All aboard for the next stop on Dungeon Tours! We got a taste for the first two dungeons of Vanguard's Thestra last week; now it's time to check out the desert lands of Qalia. Massively's MJ has put on her sunblock and plans to visit Rockspine Lair near Pankor Zhi. If time permits, she might also poke into Ksaravi Hollow near Khal. If you have a new character on Qalia, now is a great time to jump in and test yourself in these dungeons in the level 5 to 11 range.

Game: Vanguard
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, December 20th, 2013
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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