Saturday, October 12, 2019

Checking In On Vanguard

It's been a while since I checked in with the Vanguard Emulator. I like to take a look every few months to see how it's coming along. The danger is that once I log in I end up playing just as though it was a Live game.

And really, it might as well be. Every time I've logged in over the last five years (Has it really been five years since the sunset? Yes it has.) the server has been up and stable. As far as I can tell it's available pretty much 24/7/365.

The team have a spiffy new website at vgoemulator.net and a Discord server too. You're no-one without a Discord server these days. The current feature set is impressive. All of the listed features are currently implemented and working to some extent.

It includes things I'd completely forgotten, like Brotherhoods and Caravans.  Brotherhood was supposed to allow players leveling together to keep in range despite differing play hours but I vaguely remember trying it not long after launch and finding it slowed my leveling down. Caravans were a means of getting players to their group across Telon's vast landscape. Not sure I ever rode in one.

Vanguard was very much what you'd call a "feature-rich" MMORPG. It had quite a few tricks I didn't always remember until I saw them pop up in-game. And still does. As I was riding across Thestra this morning a series of updates flashed across the screen for a skill I didn't know I had: Awareness.  I didn't know what it did and even after doing a little research I still don't!

As far as I can tell, Crafting isn't in yet. Nor Harvesting. I could be wrong but neither is listed in the features and I couldn't find anyone willing to get me started. The trainers are there but they just say they have nothing to teach me. Could be me doing it wrong, of course.

I started looking for them because I logged in at a guard post outside Tursh and immediately noticed I had a chicken in my backpack. As it happened, the guard right next to me wanted it so I handed it over and he gave me a couple more things to do.

He wanted me to kill a bunch of frogs and also thin out the local boar population a little. Guards in these places always seem to have a down on the local wildlife. 

I was over-level for the area but the quests and kills still gave xp so I ran around hacking up frogs and pigs for a while. Both creatures were skinnable and I love skinning my kills. Unfortunately my Disciple didn't have the skinning skill, which is how I found myself spending the next hour riding all over Thestra in search of a trainer.

Didn't find one. Instead I took a load of screenshots and wound up having diplomatic relations with half the people I met.

Diplomacy, one of the many jewels in Vanguard's crown, is implemented. Well, Civic Diplomacy is. I don't think the Diplomacy quests are in but you can have endless oddly formal conversations with just about every NPC.

I'm not sure if the Levers are operational yet. That was the system whereby Diplomats could add buffs to an area by winning arguments with NPCs. It was an innovative and fascinating way to add a layer of social activity to the game that didn't actually involve anyone having to speak to other players.

Mrs Bhagpuss used to do a lot of it. People would ask in chat if someone could add a particular buff to an outpost and Diplomats would happily comply. Sometimes there were diplomatic incidents when several players were trying to pull different levers in the same outpost. I've certainly seen nothing like it any other MMORPG.


When I was in Tursh today I had a look at the Broker to see if anything was up for sale. One of the devs had added a whole lot of items for testing purposes, all at the very attractive price of no money at all. I bought some gloves that were an upgrade but what excited me were several ships - a sloop and a couple of caravels.

I only ever had a sloop in the Live game. Mrs Bhagpuss had a caravel. I grabbed the larger ship off the broker and got on my horse to ride down to the coast. That took a while. About half an hour in fact. Telon is huge.

You might be wondering why there's no picture of my Disciple sailing his caravel. That's because sailing doesn't appear to have been implemented yet. But when it is, I'll be ready!

When I first logged in it was the middle of the night. It always is. By the time I finally quit it was night again. I'd been through one whole day/night cycle and into the next. I tend to lose time in Vanguard that way.

It gets very dark out in the countryside at night. There was a fantastic full moon but in among the trees it was too dark to see much. I kept to the road and did my best to avoid the spiders and bears as they went up in level from easy greens to scary reds to instant-death purples.

By the time I got to Lakeview the mobs were more than double my level. It was such a nostalgic ride. Vanguard uses signposts more effectively than most MMORPGs and I read the fingerposts at every junction. So many names of places where I used to hunt. It made me want to level up so I could hunt there again.

I rode past a graveyard and had a flashback to an afternoon Mrs Bhagpuss and I spent there, grouped with a passing stranger, killing very tough undead for a quest. I remembered it as clearly as though it had been real, which of course it was. As I used to say, often, when people talked about "real life" as though it was something different to gaming, "I only have the one life. Everything I do in it is real".

You can get on peoples' nerves, saying things like that, so I stopped. True, though.

I thought I remembered there being a teleport obelisk in Lakeview but then I'd thought there was one in Tursh and I'd been wrong. I was right about Lakeview, though.

I ported over to Khal, the capital city of Qalia, Telon's desert continent. I always preferred Qalia to Thestra, mostly because it doesn't rain much there but also because of the underplayed middle-eastern accents of the NPCs. Even  now I sometimes say "Always pray for rain" in that clipped, cool fashion, with the half-pause after the first word.

Another brief and unsuccessful search for a crafting or skinning trainer and it was time to stop. I'd been "playing" for almost three hours by then.

I might start logging in more often and leveling up more seriously. There hasn't been a wipe in years and as I said the server's up as reliably as any Live game.

Vanguard on the Emulator isn't an MMORPG at the moment because for that it would need more then three or four people to log in at the same time. It is, however, an almost fully-functional single-player RPG and one of the highest quality.

If anyone's looking for something along those lines they could do far worse.

8 comments:

  1. Just a heads up, I think your first link to the emulator's website has a typo in it. It doesn't lead anywhere.

    I've always wanted to try Vanguard but it came out in my days when I had only a 28K modem and it was real hit or miss on what online games would play nicely with that. I caught it at the very end of its run but not enough to really explore the game.

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    1. Thanks! I've corrected it now. I don't imagine the emulated version will ever attract enough people to create a convincing MMO experience but at least we can still enjoy the amazing world-building.

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  2. From the 2nd link we can extrapolate that the correct url for the 1st link is https://www.vgoemulator.net/

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    1. Thanks! You'd think so, wouldn't you, but in fact that url goes to the old website. You can get to the new one from there - that's how I found they'd changed it - but the new landing page is at https://www.vgoemulator.net/index.php .

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  3. You leveled enough to be aware that you have Awareness, but not enough to be aware of what being Aware gets you.

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  4. Still my favorite mmo of all time (even more so than EQ). Logging in now!

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