I started my MMO obsession in the days of AOL. Then, I had to use my imagination 100% since they were a version of MUDs. I remember fighting in a game called ‘Duel’ or something like that, where I constantly fought in bars with other patrons using commands like /swing high or /stab. It was great fun at the time and was a game about community not flash and sparkles. Then my view changed when I saw Ultima Online. I spent a week mining before I even left the starting area. Why that was fun I will never know. Then my view changed once more. I was accepted for the beta of EverQuest. For those of you that are not familiar, you are now playing EverQuest. It is the true EverQuest II in my humble opinion.

Day one of the beta I chose a High Elf Paladin. I will allow you old timers to groan and chuckle for a minute. For the rest of you, High Elves got experience slower than any other race and Paladins gained experience slower than any other class. Go figure. My level 10 took about twice as long as a cleric I grouped with at the time. As time went on and it turned out that the High Elf Paladin… did not indeed ‘pwn’, they patched and experience came at the same speed for all. From there my MMO obsessions took me to multiple places, Anarchy Online, Horizons, EQ II, Shadowbane, Ryzom, World of Warcraft, Silkroad Online, FFXI and so forth. The list can go on for days.

One thing that has been constant in every MMO is the balance of the game is off when it launches. This often frustrates new players and sends them to more established MMOs. Here we have the same issue, though it is on a different plane. The game is very difficult, and when timing and awareness are critical, the issues of the game, such as lag and crashing, can cause a wipe. I feel the game is balanced as a game, enough to be enjoyed, but the bugs and lag are making it very difficult to enjoy as much as you could.

I go on this rant for one reason. Stick with the game because we are sitting at what I feel is the dawn of a re-evolution of MMOs. I’m not sure when it happened, seems WoW was the culprit, but MMOs became childlike in difficulty. It was near impossible to care about death, and even harder to feel that rush when the stuff hit the fan. Thank God for Brad McQuaid and even more so for Keith Parkinson who came together with this idea. Brad, after leaving EverQuest was apparently not done with it. And Keith, one of the greatest artists to have ever lived needed his paintings to breath. And for the most part those two pulled it off. Vanguard is damn hard. I have befriended a rogue named Phox, and I think we died more times last night than I ever did in World of Warcraft. This was not because we suck at what we are doing. This is because Vanguard makes you play again. MMOs are finally interactive again. Recently they became much like Dragons Lair games. Click the button at the right time and you get to the next place. Now you click the button at the right time, make macros to start the right skills with the right instruments (for us bards), play your class as was meant to be played, run when the pull is bad, fear when the healer drops, fear more when the tank drops.

Those of us who play MMOs for enjoyment, not for showing of finally have our land to explore again. In World of Warcraft you showed off how great of a 13 year old you were by ‘pwning’ some guy in Alterac. In Vanguard you simply experience the game with other like minded individuals. If you can stick with this game until 50, my hats off to you. The leveling is slow as hell. On smoke breaks (my friend plays FFXI and we always take a break to brag about the goings on in our worlds) he constantly jokes about spending 4 days to hatch an egg and I joke that in those 4 days I should get from halfway into 9 to about 10% from 10. If I don’t die. That is an exaggeration, but the grind is a grind. I’ll admit at this point I am only level 10, but I can only imagine how long levels will take. That will drive off players.

One final point that I think needs to be addressed is the advertising. I personally knew nothing about the game until a day before I purchased it last week. I had no interest. There was not a lot of info easily found, and they kept talking about new races and classes but the info was never readily available. They allow goblins, they allow orcs, and they have little fox things; these being races that were never or very rarely playable ones. Horizons did so well because of the races it let you play. We all jumped in, then realized it sucked, but letting us hard cores know there are entire new races is a great selling point. SOE has proven they will support a product regardless of how well it does. Matrix. (No offense Matrix fans, I understand it is much better now) So the game will be there for those of us who will bear with it, but personally, when it’s time to hit up Taint, or to take an alt to taint, I want to find a group easily. Not see that there are 3 level 10-20s on and 13 20+ on.

Finally, you’ve all got buddy keys, hit those forums get them out there; do a little viral of your own for SOE. The bigger the community gets the more attention it will get from SOE. EQII faltered for a bit now it’s one of the best, lets get more people trying the game now, while its young and get our community into a position to stay strong for years to come.

That’s all I got for now, thanks for listening.
Getty Leee.

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