Monday, July 13, 2015

Work In Progress: VGOE, Project:Gorgon

I'm always slightly nervous of mentioning the VGOEmulator project. It's Telon's last, best hope and I'd hate to do anything to jeopardize the amazing efforts the volunteer team is making to pick up an entire world that fell down. I'm never quite sure whether they welcome the light of publicity or whether they'd rather keep to the shadows.

With the recent legitimization of Project 1999, however, the skies seem bluer than ever before for true labors of love like these. Also, judging by Daybreak President John "Smed" Smedley's generally uncompromising attitude to internet black hats, it seems reasonable to assume that we'd know about it by now if he disapproved.

As far as I can gather from VGOE's forums tentative contact has been made to see if Vanguard can gain some kind of recognition, if not actual endorsement, from its owners and erstwhile operators but so far the response has been silence. No news, sleeping dogs and similar old saws apply.

It's been a few months since I last logged in to see how things were getting along. The old launcher no longer works. It's been replaced by a smart new one. With it came a wipe of all existing accounts. That's not a big deal at this stage because, as yet, there's no character progression. There is, however, some marked progression in the starting state of the characters themselves and that of the world into which they are reborn.

I don't actually remember these mouse-over windows from the original. Maybe they're new?

When I remade my raki disciple he was able to choose between starting on the Isle of Dawn or his original starting town of Ca'ial Brael. His details also now correctly show his race, class and level and he arrived fully kitted-out with a set of starter armor, most of his spells and skills already on his hotbar and a lunch of fresh berries in his backpack.

The world renders flawlessly - well, as flawlessly as it ever did in the Official Version - and the server is stable. You can explore the whole world at will. NPCs have had default speech clips and a generic "Welcome to Telon" window for a while but now the merchants also have stock and the trainers have skills and spells for sale.

There's some wildlife too but currently there's no real combat system. You can attack and see the animations but even though damage numbers appear your target just stands there unconcerned and unhurt. Combat is still a ways off according to the notes on the forums, where a very impressive list tracks features already implemented.

Personally I'd forego combat entirely if we could just have Diplomacy up and running. A fully-explorable Telon with no aggressive monsters but a full implementation of the unique faction card game would pretty much work as a standalone MMORPG for me. Looking at the determination and enterprise of the folks behind VGOE, though, I don't for a moment believe they'll settle for anything less than the complete, working virtual world we used to have.

They're going to get there, too. Count on it.

Another stubbornly determined, quiet force of nature is Eric Heimberg of Project: Gorgon. The failure of two previous Kickstarters hasn't even slowed him down. The game - and it very much is a game already - has continued to grow all year. It patches often and the content of the game is already quite impressive. There are, for example, fifteen dungeons ranging in level from 1 to 50.

When I logged in today, again for the first time in a good while, I noticed my character's animations seemed a lot more fluid. The world also looks more detailed. There's been a revision of stats, and although I couldn't say what's been revised or how, my character did feel more powerful.

That might have been because I didn't stray far from the starting area but even so I was mobbed on several occasions (mobs in P:G very much follow the "Hey! Get your paws off my buddy!" social etiquette of early Everquest). In previous sessions an add meant death but this time I was able to fend off, albeit by a whisker, several pigs and a trio of spiders (not all at once, although they do seem to have some kind of fraternal inter-species mutual protection pact going on).

Square! Square! Square!
The one thing about P:G I'm not quite so impressed with is the new, harshly angular GUI. It seems more appropriate for a science-fiction setting than a fantasy MMORPG. It's very easy to use though and I'm sure it will change out of all recognition by the time the game finally launches, if that day ever comes. After all, the version we're seeing, for all that it out-performs on a number of fronts quite a few similar efforts that are already taking customers' money, is still only in early alpha.

In terms of playabilty and entertainment value Project: Gorgon is very definitely moving briskly in the right direction. I'm not sure it'll be enough to guarantee success in the proposed third Kickstarter but it deserves to be. I'll be backing it again and I hope this time Eric gets my money.

Both these projects are open to anyone who's interested enough to drop in and check them out. That's something very definitely worth doing. I plan on keeping close tabs on each of them until their considerable promise is fulfilled. Good luck to everyone involved and keep up the good work!


  1. "The failure of the initial Kickstarter hasn't even slowed him down."

    You mean the failure of the first two Kickstarters. The one he is proposing will be his third. You have to stop believing Syp when he writes at Massively OP about games he doesn't play.

    1. Thanks for the correction! What's particularly annoying is that I originally wrote "third kickstarter" for the link text because that's what I remembered and then I changed it after I grabbed the link from MassivelyOP. Should trust my own memory!


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