Guilds Are Not For Everyone

When I first returned to Vanguard I joined a very progressive guild. Most of the members seemed very helpful but the mistake I made was that it was a very high end guild, limited to 55th level characters. Although my highest level guy is only 35th, they let me in — not sure why? They should have told me, listen come back in 20 levels and you are more than welcome.

I quickly realized that unless I had a 55th level character, I really had no voice or even access to 99.9% of the guild’s activities.

I like how Sony structured guilds in the game. They really serve as a focus for raiding groups but not to abolish the needs of cities or outposts. There are no guild rifts, no guild crafting stations, no guild merchants. All of this still must be performed in town by and large.

Certainly there are guilds in the game that cater to lower end characters. And being in a guild like that has its advantages, mostly as pre-50th level crafted gear is often better than farmed stuff. Its also fun to banter and carry on with a more select group of players, leaning on them for various needs across the gamut of gaming.  Getting groups and finishing quests are so much easier  dealing with a 50 players rather than 5000.  Guilds have a distinctively different feel however in Vanguard than other MMOs.

As for my involvement in a Vanguard guild, I am pulling out for the time until I know really what I want. I don’t think a single person in the guild I had joined ever said three words to me, and why should they as I was only 36th level? I love my characters and their progress, but I want to be able to actively contribute to a guild, and I really hate sitting back in the nose bleed seats while reading what others are doing.

Perhaps six weeks of playing the game again is too short of a time to even think about guilds. More than likely my judgement has been clouded by other games that have guilds — certainly in EQ2 guilds are a must even for solo players, not so in Vanguard.

Are others in guilds? What are your thoughts about joining or being in a guild?

Vanguard Memory Mod

I don’t generally copy and paste things I read elsewhere, but this handy mod is simply too good to pass up. I did this last night on both of my accounts and after a bit of frustration because Windows did not want to turn my text file into a bat file, I had this working and saw instant improvement in game play

What you need to do is a modification to the file sysconfig.ini. This file controls the modified Unreal game engine that vanguard uses. There is a section in that file that reads:

[Engine.GameEngine]
CacheSizeMegs=32

When Vanguard patches it will always restore the sysconfig.ini file and set the environment for the game engine to run in a 32 Meg sized environment.

The game will run much better in a larger environment, 256 megs rocks.
Here’s how we do it:

Locate the file sysconfig.ini in the games bin folder of Vanguard. It can be stored in several locations, so either search for it or poke around in the bin folder in Vangaurd

When you’ve found the file, copy it to some folder on the desktop or in the C drive. I found it handy to simply copy the path found on the menu bar and make the following change: Edit that file and change the one line CacheSizeMegs=32 to read CacheSizeMegs=256. Save the file.

Next, make new text file on your desktop. Name it Sysconfig.txt — Add the following lines to this new file:

@echo off
copy /Y “C:Users\John\My Documents\sysconfig.ini” “C:Program Files\Sony\Vanguard\bin”

NOTE each of these file locations may be unique to your system and set up. Do not simply copy and paste this into the text file as it will not work. Copy the location of both from the directory bar at the top of your window. It will take a bit of tweaking, but the key is to locate both the edited version and the original.

When you have verified that both file paths are correct for your setup go ahead and save the file sysconfig.txt or whenever you decided to use. Next, rename that file so it has a .bat extension at the end of it. It should read sysconfig.bat when you’re completed — Make sure you have windows showing “Known File Extensions” turned on or you will save the file as a bat file but Windows will simply add a .txt at the end of it anyway.

To implement the modification when running the game, load Vanguard and let it patch. Just before you hit the PLAY button launch the batch file to overwrite sysconfig.ini, now hit play.

The game will launch with the game engine able to use the 256 MB environment and you should be able to increase settings accordingly. This is probably the single largest mod affecting game performance. Enjoy!

Grognards of Vanguard

So this weekend I returned to Vanguard with a list of “things to get done” and as Sunday slowly ends I have reached so many of those lofty goals. What a fantastic weekend to bring out my old toons and new ones!

Boys out Harvesting

Ratook and Pidglet continue to gain levels in crafting, with them both doing a bunch of crafting quests but also from Work Orders and just making items that my alts really need.

Malthoria my armorsmith is just peeking towards tenth level, a milestone in crafting in that you really become a specialized crafter. I so need him to get several levels so that my clerics and paladin can get decent crafted gear.

Okthank my weaponsmith dinged 27th and is making all my weapons. So cool to start a process and unsure of what you are going to get until finished. I love how the powders and augments really spruce up a final weapon.

Pumpkinpuss is trying to get to 11th level in mineralogist and start truly making some magic rings. A slow progress offset by him being my primary healer — dinged 22nd this weekend!

I made two new characters this weekend as well, both females. I don’t generally make girls but long long ago I had a female monk in Everquest I and thought it would be fun to immortalize her again in Vanguard, so I made Avanta the disciple and Kimmistifer the druid. Both are 8th level and have gotten their primary harvesting skills to 100 and their secondary to 50ish.

So many other alts too were played for an hour here or an hour there. I am just a nut when it comes to alts. I have just too many and not enough time to play them all.

Two hot chicks ready to kick some ass!

Two hot chicks ready to kick some ass!

Things Vanguard Does Right!

I think it is too easy to simply sit back and complain about what Vanguard did wrong. Certainly there are innumerable aspects of the game that need polish and perhaps even a complete overhaul, and there is a place for that. But the worse thing to do is dwell on only the negative aspects of a solid and well designed game, mostly since the game has done some really incredible things right.

I am curious what other players feel that the game got right. Here is my 10 aspects that Vanguard did right. Do you agree? The following list is in no particular order but represents my free spontaneous thinking of all the glory of what Vanguard does correctly.

Rich Character Development: I have said this before but I really enjoy characters that are full bodied with stats, scores, attributes, and skills. I hate the paper cutout games where one character simply is another with a skin. Vanguard nails this. The stats, skills, and attributes are robust. It feels like your character is always growing and developing.

Large World: Many MMOs have huge land but they make the mistake of inserting some kind of system to move quickly around in it. I know when I lived in Tokyo I never truly realized the size of the city because subways would wisk me around the city and it just felt so much smaller. In this way, other games do the same. Vanguard on the other hand just makes the world seem so expansive. Certainly they have some modes of quicker transportation including mounts, boats, riftstones, and even caravans but they do it just right where it isn’t too much or too little.

Mounts: Up until just recently I think Vanguard did the mounts right. Recently with some garish looking ground and flying mounts, I begin to question this but overall I like how it works. You gradually increase in ground movement speed as you level. You start with basic mounts at 10, so it feels like you can have something right away but there is so much to improve. I like how they get the crafters involved with horseshoes and barding and how that increases in level.

Classes: I love classes. I so dislike games that just glom all abilities together into generic pathetic classes. Vanguard nails it with unique and specific classes. Each class feels special and has its own unique way of playing. It doesn’t water down or generalize anything. I am a altaholic and specifically in this game I can never decide what class I want to play because each is so unique.

Races: I love races. I love a race that is more than a skin but has some special ability or something unique about the race. I so dislike games that make races just a graphic skin. Vanguard does this well.

Travel: Much in the way of two aspects above, the size of the world and mounts, but I love travel in the game. They do not trivialize it like so many other games. It takes a bit of time to get to places, so the travel feels real as well as the world. I remember the days before riftstones and the world felt even larger, but they implemented the changes well. Nothing more fun to be in the wilderness and see a fellow player run/riding past you on his way to some far flung quest.

Crafting: I was initially wrong when I said that crafting was a bitch. Well perhaps it is a pain in the ass, but that’s what makes it so special. That is what they did in the game. Other MMOs trivialize crafting because those devs think that crafting is tertiary to the game, but in Vanguard each sphere is challenging and fun. Each has its own quests and gear. They make all the spheres seems special. I so hate MMOs now that you just grind recipes until you can find that 1 item that you need.

Diplomacy: I have done very little in the way of diplomacy but that mere fact is cool that there is some aspect of the game that I could always turn to if others get a bit boring at the moment. So cool for it to be taken seriously and to have their own quests and gear.

Death: Don’t make death nothing more than respawning and running back into the fray. Vanguard does it right. You die and its going to hurt. You don’t go back to your tombstone — it’s really going to hurt. You don’t have the time to go to your tombstone? Well, summon it but take a hit on XP. Perfect. Simply the way it should be. Period.

Dungeons: These formidable places aren’t to be trifled with. Mobs inside these places are mean and dangerous. In other games I would just charge into a dungeon and not think twice about it, but in Vanguard you need a group and you need to find one. No instant dungeon group makers and other sissy lazy ass systems. You want to do a dungeon, you better have guildies or a network of ingame friends. Period.

 

 

 

 

Vanguard Secret II

Last night my friend and I wanted to try something new and unknown. So we packed up three guys, him with his monk and I dual boxing a cleric and a bard, and we headed for Lomshir.

Now new players may say, “I heave heard of that place, but it is off in god’s country and too hard to get there!?!” But there is a secret that you may or may not know. There is a riftstone in Lomshir. If your map does not show it, you can stand by a rift stone and type: /rift Lomshir

Your character will teleport to the stone. Nearby of course is the town of Lomshir and it nearly has everything any new character may need except for a Market. I think there is one further down the road in a town called Dark Horse Downs, though I have not been there in a long time.

Along the shore is a wreck boat and inside are double and triple dot 13 to 20th level mobs. The deeper that you explore, the larger you will realize the size of the dungeon. This place is huge. It has some very nice quests along the way, too. The loot from what I have seen is horrid — I almost wonder if at one time this dungeon was for 2nd to 10th level monsters rather than what assuredly s for a 13th to 21st level crowd now. The devs updated the mobs, but not the treasure.

This dungeon appears to be a great little secret. We never saw another player all night, and yet this area is just rich with so much possibilities. A great list of resources, monsters, treasures, and quests await. I don’t necessarily want to give out this information but I would be remiss in not telling my fellow Vanguardians that this is the place to take 10th level guys — screw the Qa river area, come here.

So much potential here in the Lomshir area you must take a low level guy here.

Vanguard Adventures

I had a great time last night in Vanguard. For a couple of hours my friend and I hunted 3 and 4 dot hobgoblins near Renton Keep and I got myself 20th level on my cleric and shaman. I then proceeded to get my cleric’s affinity in Tanvu. My shaman got a bit of love from my leatherworker, Ratook, when he got all new 19th level crafted Constitution gear.

Didn’t get anything in the way of good loot drops, and even if I did I would probably tried to deconstruct them for powders or harvests.

After my adventuring, I went solo for the remainder of the night taking my weaponsmith out and getting his several tier abilities done and criss-crossing Telon in several crafting quests.

Got on Ratook, my leatherworker, and started his Banishers quest. It makes me chuckle to think he got to 25th level without ever doing any crafting quests — back then I just didn’t know how they worked or was bored with them. Now he is one-third the way through the Banishers quest line and has accrued some really nice pieces of equipment and almost a level with cashin quests.

Tonight my buddy comes over and we are going to LAN-Vanguard: Play the game in the same room on three computers. We like doing this every week and just give each other crap and do some big quests or a dungeon crawl.

Secrets of Vanguard

Does anyone have any secrets or lost bits of knowledge to share about Vanguard?

I just learned about the double torch in the game. In the dark you can hit the ‘K’button and get a radiant light source around your character, but I just learned that if you hit ‘Shift+K’ you get a second light source for the real dark dungeons!

Also I learned about assisting Harvesting. Not just having more than one guy in a group while harvesting, rather you start the harvest and anyone with the correct tool can jump in and help the primary harvester. They gain additional and often valuable additional harvests.

Lastly as I have already discussed, the whole concept of a crafter just grinding levels is a complete wrong approach in Vanguard. Crafting in Vanguard is all about traveling and seeing new sights. As a crafter you will be a true adventurer, traveling to all the major cities, towns, and even a dungeon or two to complete quests and find rare recipes. I urge any new player to take up the quest line of “The Banishers” which should be found in any of the major cities but leads back to New Targonor.

What other tidbits are there?

Weekend in Vanguard

Great weekend playing Vanguard. I am a slow learner and usually takes me two or three times longer to catch on to something. I finally dabbled in the crafting quest line of The Banishers and realized if I did that years ago I may still have been playing game.

I took three of my crafters about half way through the quest lines and got a ton of cool stuff and a smattering of levels.  Many of the quests involved 3, 5, or 10 combinations of recipes to complete and then to run all over New Targanor — a huge ancient city.  I curse myself for my poor memory skills because even on the third time through I often forgot where many of the points of interests were located.

If anyone is returning and is frogging around with crafting, it is essential you do the Banishers quest. As a matter of fact, one piece of advice I can give you is DO NOT grind levels crafting — the worst possible thing you can do. I didn’t learn that the first time but I am certainly learning it now. You can waste days, just repeating Word Orders without getting much of anywhere.

Just like adventuring, and what I can only imagine in Diplomacy, crafting is so much more than in any other MMO I have ever played. Each sphere is taken seriously and has serious quests, goals, and valuable loot. You can truly get excited about magical gear in crafting, unlike anything I have seen in any other game.

I don’t know much about Diplomacy but its rewards are just as interesting. I have gotten a few pieces of nice Diplomacy gear and may have to get at least 10 levels in it to see how it goes.

Each Sphere seems so different, but each is no “Walk In The Park”. All can be rewards but also so frustrating.  I am already looking forward to next weekend where I can spend seriously 8 to 1o hours in the world of Telon.

Pet Peeve of the Week for Vanguard

The kid who buys the $25 flying mount and parks it directly on top of a rift: “Look at me! Look at me!” No one carries, Billie. And you are really only ticking people off who want to use the stone to go someplace. Buying something on the store doesn’t show the rest of us anything other than you are a dumbass.

The guy who plays 15 minutes of the game and then starts this long diatribe on how it isn’t as fun or good as World of Warcraft. Tommy, no one cares. You need to experience hours of game before making an opinion. Everyone knows that the game isn’t perfect, but often the rough cut jewel sparkles the most. There is a magic about the game and some snotty nosed xbox player isn’t going to see that in 15 minutes. Move on but don’t clog the chat channel with your worthless opinion.

The gamer who somehow thinks that his five year old $300 Dell laptop is going to play the game. And then whines and bitches on all the channels as to why his game his laggy and chuggs. The game was a stretch of technology six years ago, made only slightly better with today’s multicore processors and gigabytes of RAM. Realize this game is not for the half-hearted gamer, it really isn’t, so unless you have a decent computer look elsehwere. Please don’t play nor waste my time trying to figure out the magic settings that will make the game run on a piece of shit.

Thoughts on Civilization IV Modding

So, as I sit here on the cusp of ending two development cycles at the same time, I can look back at the two and clearly see the direction I am going on both.  As with any mod for Civilization IV, it is always hypothetical game of chances, what if’s, and possibilities. With that said, however, I wanted to create two different kinds of games with the mods.  The first mod was born in the early days of my modding experience and included some rather fanciful stuff, while the second mod was based more on more or less realistic boundaries.  I preface that phrase knowing all to well that the game itself lends to weird possibilities such as Lincoln with long bows, Hitler with the jets, or even Solomon with a tactical nuke — that is just the game.

In the first mod, ExtremeMod, I decided to rename it so that it better represents the game at large. Drawing from my RPG of the 1990s, I gave it the name Multiverse.  Rightfully so, it is full of magic, steampunk technology, dinosaurs, psionics, weird technologies, and endless combination of the bizarre.  I also wanted to make the game a resource battle, and thus I placed almost every item and building on the need of owning a particular resource. I also created at least 30 new resources and the appropriate technology and improvements to support it.  Multiverse will grow in the coming years, if I have the chance, to be the pinnacle of fantasy design with new player cultures  (such as the elves, amazons, dwarves, dark forces, and perhaps even a zombie king). It will also have new units, technologies, and experiences.

In my second mod, I wanted to create a game that had a rich source of Unique Units and Buildings, drawing on history to recreate some of the greatest technologies and wonders.  It is not necessarily about having specific resources, but more about experiencing all the different cultures and civilizations in the game.  There are some aspects of the game, most notably combustion units, that require a specific resource (oil), but for the most part it is open to building anything with the minimal number of resources.  This game so far has proven great fun in play testing and I hope the game will continue to grow with new UUs and UBs.   I am finishing up the second test phase of latter half game play, basically starting after the Renaissance.

I also want to specfically thank the designer known as Tsentom for provided me with such a great base to design my game. I love what you have added and have learned so much from you.  I have never met the guy, nor even had a correspondence with him, but feel indebted to him. It has been a scant year since I started modding for the game and I have learned so much — I wonder what another year will hold for me.

Troy

August 21, 2011