Saturday, January 25, 2014

Six Months : Vanguard

My plan for this Saturday morning was to post about Scarlet's Lair. Well, that's going to have to wait a while. Last night as I logged out of Guild Wars 2 I quickly checked my Feedly and got slapped across the face by this. I guess there's no way to break news like that gently, but still...

From there it was on to Smed's Ask Me Anything, a very interesting read. I went to bed feeling mildly uncomfortable at the thought of Vanguard's imminent demise and woke up this morning much the same. I've spent a couple of hours since then reading various responses and reactions, adding my own comments. Wilhelm is keeping a tab on such things so rather than list them here I'll just throw out the one link and let TAGN, as so often, be the blog of record.

Largely as a result of Brad McQuaid's Pantheon kickstarter and the soon-come EQNLandmark alpha I've been posting and commenting about Vanguard quite a lot recently. Thinking about it, too. Thinking I really ought to go back and play again, not just talk about playing. Get my Diplomacy moving. Go sailing.

Well, it's now or never. Six months to live. It's a disturbing thought. On July 31st the sun will go down over Telon for the final time. It's too soon to decide if I'll be there or not.

The first and last time I waited out the end of a world was in EQ2 Beta. We'd been there for the best part of three months. Hard months. We had a lot invested and even though nothing was meant to last, coming to the end felt strange, uncomfortable.

There was a huge end-of-the-world party at the Claymore in Antonica but just before the final countdown began I slipped away, back to my inn room in Baubleshire, where I waited out the apocalypse, alone with my cat. There he is, in the picture at the top of this blog, taken just a few seconds before oblivion claimed us both.

The end of that world was bittersweet because it was an ending and a beginning both. When the new servers came up, at character creation, I chose not to remake the same character I'd been playing. I stepped out onto the much-missed Steamfont server, itself lost in a long-forgotten merge, as the same class, the same race, but a very different individual. I chose to believe that particular gnome cleric I'd grown to know so well had simply retired, given up adventuring, settled down. I still remember his name.

When Vanguard takes its final curtain call there will be no such second coming. If it was hard to say goodbye to a beta character just a few months old, knowing that, while he took his well-earned rest, for me the adventure was just beginning, how much more painful will it be to watch one of my favorite characters ever disappear into the good night? Along with all his friends and helpmates. Forever.

Telon is the adopted home of my favorite MMO race, the childlike, over-serious Raki, fox philosophers all. Also my favorite class, that most indefatigable of hard-hitting healers, the Disciple. The marriage of both, my Raki Disciple, vies for a place as my favorite character in any MMO. Of course I'm going to miss him and I'm not at all sure I want to be there to see him die. But when it comes time, surely I can't let him die alone?

Ah well, that's a dilemma for another day. We have a stay of execution, a fleeting few months to revisit old haunts, walk familiar paths, remember. I'll be taking my camera. You know what? I think I'll rebuild my house. At least there's no need anymore to worry about where I'll get the gold to pay the rent.

Vanguard may have been a flawed MMO but Telon itself is a work of art and in these digital days there's surely no need for anything made of ones and zeros to be lost for good and all. Players will make a record and the internet will remember but I trust and hope that someone at Sony, understanding their custodial role, will ensure the code remains secure, in trust for the future. In time perhaps Telon may delight again as a wonder to admire or study in museum, university or gallery.

Until then, like the mayfly, yet we live.


  1. Mehh :( I hate it when MMOs shut down that are beloved by friends. I've so far never experienced this kind of thing myself but already it makes me feel gloomy on others behalf. I thought of your Vanguard posts right away when I read SOE's news. it seems odd they would choose Vanguard, I know a fair few people still playing from time to time. can't say that of the other titles to make the chopping block.

  2. With all of our back and forth on Vanguard lately I rushed over here when I heard the news. It's never good when a MMO shuts down as people have built communities and friendships in them. So, I feel bad on the announcement for you and those who enjoy it.

    Funny, they tore down my old high school recently in my hometown and a friend of mine who still lived there took bricks from it and made clocks out of the bricks and have been selling them. He just gave me one, and I have it sitting in my office. My high school (like many others) was a very formative place in my life so it is nice to have a piece of it.

    Take your pictures, make your posts, and preserve a piece of Telon to remind yourself of the good times you had there =)

  3. We are all going to have get used to this. It's going to keep on happening and there won't be many survivors as the timescales slip into decades. Time is change, after all, and even in other popular media that use an ongoing narrative form - comics, detective novels, tv shows, movie series - over time about the only thing that stays the same is the name of the franchise. Everquest now is very much not the EQ I played in 1999 or 2003.

    Vanguard was unusual in that it was never successful enough to see a prolonged period of development and yet it remained up and running for a very long time - seven years. It's different from how it once was, but not *that* different. Huge tracts of Telon remain unchanged. In a way that makes it more difficult to accept its disappearance. Because it's much the same as it always was it seems it should just go on being there, even if hardly anyone is using it. Like a statue that people walk past every day and never really notice, no-one will miss it until it's gone.

    Brad McQuaid's tweet, reposted at HarbingerZero's site, plus a few things in Smed's AMA suggest tome there is still a lot going on behind the scenes. SOE fans probbaly need to prepare for a bumpy ride. If EQL/N don't fly as high as expected things could get very dark indeed.


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