Vanguard, CoH, SWG – a quick thought to keep the beancounters awake at night

You know, in their heyday, popular novels and film were thought to be of little significance and treated with zero respect. Not thought to be even cultural forms, let alone art. The BBC neglected and destroyed miles of early footage by not bothering to store it properly, footage that historians and film buffs and many others would give their eye teeth to access now. And who knows how many penny dreadfuls never made it to this century in any form. Dickens’ work did. Novel writing made it to art status, so did film. (Countless types of popular music were “horrible noisy modern garbage”  in their day, let’s not forget that either.)

Video games are absolutely and completely an expression of this era, being new (as in unseen before), coincident with rising technologies, popular, and expressive of our current preoccupations and visual tastes. In a mere 50 years the games that have been trashed will be deemed part of history.

People, with some distance and the passage of time, will also see more easily that they were things of beauty and depth, artefacts created lovingly by the hands of many  – and then ‘alive’ and developing through the usage of many because unlike film or novels part of this cultural activity, video gaming,  is the active and direct participation of audience. It is not a passive form. Without players, there is no game – you can see where this is going! It is to be hoped that code and assets will be at least preserved in a place of safety for the future.  But most likely, like that BBC footage it will not be, plus the technology will change making frozen, stored games unplayable.

The preservation of what we play now is pretty much down to the semi-legal efforts of fans, (via emulators, tributes, fan art etc) who will keep the code current. Companies, who could be doing their bit by donating information and what part of code/assets they own won’t help, because they’d just die of greed if anyone else made any money (basically). Well that’s fine, they’re doomed to be that footnote: “game was not profitable enough and XYZ Company closed it.”

So before putting on the chancellor face (Nigel Lawson did a good one) and considering VG, CoH and SWG to be good riddance to bad profit, I suggest beancounters play one of their ‘how rich I’d be if…’ games and imagine, now that the deed is done, how much money they have said goodbye to, 50, 100 , 200 years from now, when what little code and assets they bother to preserve is no longer accessible to them due to the platforms having gone dodo. Not accessible to them. But still accessible to those that salvaged what they could.

The game they thought they killed will still lurk in the corners and bywaters of the internet, alive. (It’s quite cool).

I’d not put any faith in lawsuits and copyright either. The games will in all likelihood outlast the company/person that ‘owns’ them, will be dispersed and all over the place (such is the internet) and finally copyright laws are such a mess right now it’s only a matter of time before some drastic revision and adaptation – they might not even apply. I rather think the games as a service model is rickety too and pretty sure that’s going to be challenged/modified at some point

Sleep tight now, beancounters 🙂

Categories: Vanguard

Goodbye Vanguard

Today the Vanguard Saga of Heroes servers go down for the last time, I’m quite sad about that. I had to wait to play Vanguard, because for a long time it wouldn’t run on my computer, but belatedly SOE put some work in, and then I could play it. I liked Vanguard a lot, I played it, and I’d continue playing it if it was still there.

I didn’t want to log in and maunder about feeling gloomy during the last few months. Today though, I logged in once on a random alt, and it was in time for one of their purple sunsets which seems just right, so last screenshot.


Fond memories then.

Categories: Vanguard

SOE presents… : Another Funnel !! (Vanguard)

Telon and Halgar are being merged. Sheesh. Usual disregard for EU players, usual besotment with trying to get everyone breathing everyone else’s digital armpit. People just love seeing a ton of other people’s spam about the latest single hair they grew in chat, it makes it look more alive (would be better if it just *was* more alive)  yada yada yada….Ho hum. Merged server with New Improved Lag no doubt.

Regarding the ‘more alive’ – it’s a great game and it’s not the players’ fault that it doesn’t have a heaving population, it would be more alive if SOE ceased with the stop/start developing and put their backs into making something of it rather than removing the perfectly good and extremely interesting racial starting zones in order to create a funnelled start experience to go with their funnelled servers.

Squishing players together for an illusion of popularity fools nobody. Even worse, judging by some of the comments over at Massively, some people  read “about to close down this game” into server mergers.

Categories: Vanguard

New content Lomsir (Vanguard SOH)

Some work is still being done on Vanguard, though the angst of the playerbase comes through very strongly when you read the forums. They are extremely alert to any signs of being abandoned again, and who can blame them. Yesterday new content was added to Lomsir. I was under the impression that this was for lvl12 ish.

I do have a tank in Lomsir at lvl 10 as it happens. Was trying to get to the Kurashasa starting zone but the portal don’t work so I was doing the other local quest line and now all what were her quests are purple (16) and the local wildlife kills her dead because it’s been buffed and she suffers from squishy tank syndrome which is an old fashioned leftover from days of yore when tanks were nobut walking gear.

So far haven’t seen any new quests to replace the purple ones anywhere either (I might be too young)… will write if I/when I do.

PS : I don’t mind my tank squishy just now because her fighting cat-squawks are so funny. It will be different when the death penalty kicks in… maybe… hahahaha!

Update: Week is over, and now I’m just playing. Yay !! I found some wildlife squishier than me and made it to lvl 11 – found one quest and got a server first for completing it (!), but no follow on. I think I already did the follow on quests to be honest… I don’t really know though.  So think I’m just going to grind on to lvl 12 – it’s very pleasant. There’s grinding and there’s grinding – I like that I can wander about and explore as I level up even if not questing. I got a “Shandrel’s Enchanted Blade” doing that too, which is a yellow  item but a shuriken which I can’t use but can maybe trade with someone in the family who can – not sure – but nice to see a yellow (some sort of yellowish colour) drop anyway :). I’m wondering if I already did the “new” content. My tank has been in the area for some while already, couple of months or so.

It used up time while I waited for someone not to “phone back” as they said they would. I hate playing phone patty. It doesn’t make me believe a person is important or busy when they do this – I mentally paste “Pratt” on them.  Phone Pratty Patties today, no. 3 in todo list, wot (waste of time). I do ’em all at the same time, then at least it’s only one morning a week spent drooling next to the phone. I do ’em on Fridays, then email them on Mondays. Sooner or later it crosses their tiny minds that I’m not playing along and they make bliddy time to speak.

Or write.

More update: Ground to 12, and found another quest, got another server first (on a chest). I think having already done the quests that were already there is aiding me some though, the new ones stand out. I got another first on some pauldrons too handing in an old quest I discovered I’d finished, and that Shandrel person, well I got a lot of his or her stuffs. Which it looks like needs to be deconstructed. I’ll read up. And plenty of leather. With my new gear my tank (“nobut walking gear”) can terrorise a better class of wildlife so I’m nearly at 13. At some point me and the game will synch I thynch but in the meanwhile I’m having a lot of fun in a rather nice not-on-rails way grinding between the quests until I catch up with the lvl 16 ones I already have. I can already nibble at those, if the wind is in the right direction and things chain and crits are big I can very sometimes take something down that’s a lot too tough for 12, but mostly I doi. I think that’s part of the fun of the class though. Dreadknights. Feeble as hamsters when bread and buttering, but now and again fortune smiles…

I will take time out to do some crafting and use up some of that leather, while nibbling at the 16 stuff very occasionally – and grinding wildlife as I explore. (Sometimes the scenery really is spectacular.) Sorry no screenies for this post. Today…once the phone calls were done, I just played. Been a long week, tired, bit terse. The tension will ease, weekend now. Relax…

Categories: Vanguard

Small Frozen Fruit Salad wrapped in Fog (2013)(Vanguard, EQ2, Wurm)

Over here we saw some sun already this year but the trees are still asleep, their buds barely visible – they knew we were in for another cold spell. I’m supposed to be out and about today but happens I have a choice in the matter and I’m not stupid. So home I am, with work to do and warm, and sensible it is too plus good for the environment. Outiside is freezing fog. This won’t take long. The fallout from January continues, albeit at a slower rate and I’ve been busy with real things. I’ve played but 3 games plus Frog Fractions which I still haven’t finished even though it’s quite short.

Vanguard continues to fascinate, I’m delighted to say. It’s the game I played most. I now just about have one of everything and have managed to see Pankhor Zhi (it’s empty), and sent a Kurashasa homeward, but the Kurashasa zone is already shut off, so too late. Quite nice plinking around nearby though where there are the starter quests for another race to be had (I forget which). A little Raki made it all the way to the wood-elf starting zone, but the pics are on my zapped external hdd, and a lesser giant made it to Halgarad (hope I spelled it right). I really like the old starter zones. I don’t care about the gear, I like the variety. This is a fabulous game to solo in by the way. Nothing is too easy, which makes it all quite gripping. Slowly I’m meeting people too and it all feels very natural. I do have the secret weapon of course, I can always get a family member to group with me and tackle anything unsoloable, but so far haven’t needed to. Shark


Everquest 2 yay, played this second most much and I neglect writing about it I know. So far it’s been a total voyage of discovery and I’ve now discovered too much to catch up on is the problem. I will make a new alt and write about all the bits as I come across them is probably the best way to tackle it. And I do want to because this is a massive game with a huge amount of good stuff in it. It’s also (oddly for an MMORPG) a game in which one of the alts has a “life” of her own (the big girl). The Big Girl is a story – mostly my alts have the (soon to be devalued) clothes they stand in and a few kills, very thin, but the Big Girl is more complex and more fun. I think she has her own take on the male gaze for one thing. Hahaha!

Poor old Wurm has made it to the household chores list, the real one. At the bottom. Well…  I log in, do chores, log out and not much to say really except it’s working. Nothing has crumbled to dust and my skills are going up. I also get to chat to friends if they’re around. I don’t have the time for this game. I’m wriggling and squirming to fit it in but it’s like trying to keep an octopus in a fish tank. I’ll do this ‘improve year’, review in June and most likely go dormant in December – with real regret. I’d like to keep playing, but there’s far too much maintenance. The whole point of a virtual world is that it should exist independent of me, and I’m afraid that bargain has to include my stuff has to exist independent of me because I don’t have the time to sustain it.  So, yeah, guess decay did for me in the end. I think the decision is made really. I can’t see “dormant” lasting long either since the trader would still be needing fed. Too many, way too many chores. Sill, I’m there for this year.

Footnote: If you want to see what’s left of the starting zones in Vanguard – I found this guide helpful:

Categories: EQ2, Fruit Salad, Life On Wurm, Vanguard

Theres just one problem…


There’s a shark in here somewhere

It’s Friday! Here’s an idyllic place to go. But I’m deeply scared of this quest to kill Matu Makas (Vanguard SOH) – the fear is PRIMAL. I just can’t do it!! (halp!). I’ve tried all week but I just can’t swim in that water… Well kids are home from school soon – I’m hoping one of them, brave souls, will do it for me.  I can live with the teasing, just don’t make me do the quest!

The weird thing is I’ve swum and dived in very real shark-infested waters and seen sharks often enough – off Singapore in the Straits, in Malaysia, on the Wild Coast in S.A. Or is that why I’m scared? I know exactly what might be out there…how big it might be… how it would behave. But I don’t because this is digital. I don’t trust the game to give me a big, scary but fairly predictable shark that I can stay well out of it’s way tyvm. Oh this is v. odd. Sharks can be very huge indeed. The ones I’ve come across were not huge-huge, but quite big enough to make being in another place a better idea if they got interested. What if the one out there is one of those huge jobbies the size of my living room like they used to keep in the Durban aquarium long ago (maybe they still do)…. ooooo I can’t do it….

Hats off for immersion on this one!

Categories: Vanguard

Off The Rails as soon as possible! (Vanguard Saga of Heroes)

The 4 funnelled starting zones in Vanguard are fine really, I don’t mind them. I am still trying out the various classes though and have now seen quite a lot of them. Also I see the dreaded “revamp” word being used regarding the original racial starting areas. Why? I don’t care if it’s boring and there is no room for personal glory in just fixing the bugs, evening out the quest flow and letting things be – not liking just fixing things, well that’s some dev’s personal problem. I’m just a player here, dev aspirations are not my concern, and I don’t like streamlined pablum, new for the sake of new.

Exploration is of time as well as area, you know. The deathknell of WoW-and-my long-standing relationship rang out exactly when they stripped out old content and replaced it with a thin, on-rails boring overfast trivial experience, which you only wanted to play once and never again and which outlevelled the zone. No more pleasant times with Thottbott tracking down obscure items or strange npcs or places I came across. I didn’t much care if things were broken here and there either. It was discovery, pure and simple, and exploration, and it was good. If things don’t work so well in old places and you don’t feel inclined to fix them, just put “Here Be Bugs” on the map and let people still be able to see what past devs made. Layers of time provide richness.

We can make far snazzier pyramids nowadays, but people still go to Egypt.

So starting on a rainy moonlit Qalian evening… (get comfy, snuggle down, I will tell a tale….)


So far my ventures into this world had been pleasant but bland, only the classes and their sheer dazzling depth had gripped me – but one must not judge a whole game world by the very startiest starty places and thankfully this dark elf was ready to go to the secondpartystarty starty place in Khal, as soon as the sun rose. Scorpions on leashes eh, she mused, well…. ok. Being trained by rats, no… rat people. Giggle! Anyway, soon time to find the path down the cliff and see what lay ahead. This did:SceneryVG


I was not to know it right then, but that was to be the start of a marathon gaming session, the like of which I have not been tempted into since my very early days of instance soloing on World of Warcraft, before I got involved in guilds and raids and all the other things they push down your throat – and hence had no time for such delights.

Usually I do ignore the lore in games, I confess it. I find it badly constructed which soon annoys me. Whole chunks don’t fit together and the layers don’t relate. Things get undue importance then trail to nothing. But the lore here is slowly seeping in. Down the hill I had more doings with the ratpeople, the Ksaravi, and my doings weren’t as clear-cut as I expected. The quest flow in this area is nice, with little side trails that provide some interesting diversions from the main trail to the starter dungeon… One thing led to another as the secondpartystarty starty area of Khal unfolded it’s tale. I duly entered the Ksaravi Hollow cave.

I am something of a dungeon bunny, I like to solo them, I like to explore them, and I thought I was in one of the usual kind, which would have been good enough for me. But it was nicer than that really, not like any dungeon I’ve been in before. For one thing, eventually I fought my way to this:ratsnest2

(I had to come back later and take the screenshot on another alt)

By this time, it was past my bedtime in the game called Real but fortunately I was not due anywhere early next day … I mean what self-respecting dungeon bunny could resist???


Hehe – no more screenshots of the ratpalace – go see for yourself! It’s quite fun in there. I was there until near morning and got to the end boss, which I apparently killed. But I doid, and didn’t know :).

And that settled that! Vanguard is an amazing game. It really is and I intend to carry on playing it.

Next though, the vexed business of “retooling starter zones”. I haven’t the time to race to see these areas before they destroy them in the name of progress and I have already missed one…. Mekalia? I think it’s called. How dismaying. How…. errr … oh well. Anyway my dark elf finished the dungeon properly the next day and! Off to find the Dark Elf starting zone isn’t it.

I’ll leave it there, but just to say I arrived safely – (having fun, wish you were here!)Postcard


Categories: Game Design and Creation, Vanguard

OK I’m blown away

But this isn’t about that. I had a stupendous evening with Vanguard, but will get a nice screenshot for writing about it, (and find out what the rat people are actually called). Right now I am so tired, can hardly see straight. Usually I’m very good about not getting sucked in and spending long hours playing while the rest of Britain is watching tv, but Vanguard got me this time.

I was feeling guilty for not doing my half hour on Wurm though, so I started  wearily to log in. Luckily I checked the forums first:



I’m not sure what the “black hole” is but it appears to be chewing on the Exodus server, and the Celebration problem, well who knows. I keep being disconnected there it is true – probably part of this.

I have no intention of logging in just now after all. I’m gonnae lay low!, but, you know, it’s this kind of event that keeps me there too. It’s always different, Wurm, it lives and breathes alright.

Categories: Life On Wurm, Vanguard

Springy January Fruit Salad

It’s been a busy old week but here I am thankfully, gratefully, happily back at the dashboard of my blog, yay! There I was too, thinking this year would be all about single player games. I’ve not touched them this month though. In a surprise move Vanguard Saga of Heroes has crept to the fore and is currently main game. The one I go to when I have spare time. I am like a small child in a bath full of marshmallows, making new alts  –  but also trying out the crafting and diplomacy, exploring, just enjoying. Here below is another of the brood – a ranger:


and some pretty little shiny things… I like pretty little shiny things…

I have been able to crank up my settings a little, without any problems, so the game is quite pretty now. I have only made about 7 alts so far (there are 15 classes). They take a while to level. I love that! My highest is the Necromancer (no surprise hehe) who is attempting to fly a pegasus. I think I have got the hang of it now, but its an awkward business involving a double spacebar tap to take off while moving forward and at the same time looking in the direction you want to go (as in “up”). Meh, I’m almost done the quest. Flying isn’t something I’ll be rushing to do – or swimming underwater which is even odder. I would rather lurk about in dungeons! The ranger above has been living in The Earth Den (Isle of Dawn) for a week or two. Actually I’ve finished the quests there I just like sneaking about the place, dw it’s just one of those me things, and because of the slow levelling, she still gets enough little scraps of experience to justify being there.

I’m not sure why I’m so taken with it. It may just be “new to me”, but like it I do. I looked at the matrix, very tempted to sub, but saw alas, that you get 20% experience gain. Just what I don’t want! And I mean that very much. Nevermind, later maybe. The cash shop was a strange experience with everything facing the wrong way when you preview it. When you turn things it takes ages to do, holding down mouse, drag sideways many times before a front view is achieved. Fraid I can’t be bothered doing that more than once or twice. So that will be a “later” thing too. I don’t mind not spending money, of course, but I really have enjoyed my month with Vanguard and would like to. I’m sure I’ll find a way 🙂

Wurm will get a longer post when I get around to it. I’m doing an improve year, with some mining and woodcutting. Truth be told I could do with a break from it and return refreshed, but that’s not something it’s built for. So when I do log in now and then, yes, I fix things, and improve the quality. At the end of 2013 I should have some nice skills and there’s the value. Improving things only delays the inevitable destruction through decay – there is no real point to it but the skills are worth having. I also have some bigger projects I can pick at if I have a block ‘o time and a Wurmy yen concurrently. Not something that happens very often. I don’t feel too bad about spending less time in Wurm for the now. Wurm is doing well! I have never seen so many players and the improvements keep happening. Rolf is back to coding pvp and finding new ways to crank decay up – all is well. And, a nice thing, we are getting some new tree types – one moment I’ll dig up the forum post…

Edit: forgot to add. Wurm is running very badly just now, if it loads at all, stuttering over every tile and crashing now and again. I’m sure this will all be fixed/improved but I’m glad I’m not trying to struggle through it.

Other things, EQ2 remains a firm favourite with that rhythm of go out and adventure, come home and move the furniture about – sheer genius! And a friend got me to download ToME (forgotten what it stands for)  but not had a lot of time to play it yet. That’s what I played in January, it was a very busy and somewhat fraught month, even for a January.

Categories: EQ2, Fruit Salad, Life On Wurm, Vanguard

Joyously noob (Vanguard Saga of Heroes)

Once, long ago, settle down, when I started playing WoW, I had a warlock. She wasn’t the first alt I rolled but she became a favourite for being so fun to play. Then they messed around with the class and I stopped playing it. It was bland. It was generic. It was – boring. I didn’t know it at the time, but my warlock was but a pale shade of a Vanguard Necromancer. Last time I tried Vanguard I discovered Necromancers and as a result though little played due to running like a cow, Vanguard has stayed on my hard disk. I have a few of those – Fallen Earth is another, and GW2. I check on them now and again to see if they are working any better because I know when players are thin, games get around to optimising. So, with the new f2p matrix I thought I’d give Vanguard another whirl, it’s about the right time.


I played for a half hour and I was hooked. My settings are all pretty low, but it runs nicely now and I don’t want to log out after 10 minutes – a lot less sludgy, a lot, a lot. And only the occasional stutter, very occasionally. That is a huge improvement. I don’t know what they’ve done, but it meant I had time to feeeeeel the magic! Then there’s the new f2p deal, which I’ve not gone into in much detail because I can try all the classes with no fear of a cutoff at level 20. I was going to try them all anyway, if/when Vanguard ran ok, and pay for only the ones I fell so in love with so much that I could not bear to not advance them (possibly just the Necromancer). So you’d think there was no gain for SOE – but what’s happened is that “eventually try them all” turned to – “ooh I’ll try them all now”. No direct reasoning there then 🙂 Just some weirdie magic, and that’s all I needed for now from the new matrix, apparently, and Vanguard got some hours from me.  I’ll check the matrix out in detail later – and yes, browse the cash shop. Win.

Downs quickly – nag button at the top front of the screen. Hate the thing, and it makes me not want to subscribe. Settings still need to be very low – I can live with it. Funny legs – ditto. That’s about it. I am having fun with tanks – above is a very young paladin that I’m off to play right now for a half hour before I mustneeds go out.

Categories: Vanguard

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