I'd like to introduce myself to many of you that do not know me. My name is Thom Terrazas, Producer for Vanguard. In a few words, I've been with Sony Online Entertainment over 9 years (unofficially). During that time, I have and still do work, with some of the greatest people in the MMO world of whom I intend to solicit feedback from and use to my advantage. One of the best things that I have learned in this industry is to work closely with your team, while at the same time allow them to do their jobs and show off their talents - and we have some amazingly passionate and talented developers working on Vanguard. I give them a lot of credit for launching an MMO of this caliber, and you'll continue to see their talents shining through in our future updates.
The Team's Current Focus
In the past few weeks, the team has been examining all of the fundamental game mechanics and discussing what we think it is fun to play and what is not. The great thing is we are not holding anything back - everything is fair game!. So something that may have been perceived as off limits in the past, is now open for debate and is able to be measured on the fun-factor-scale. At the end of the day, we all want to say we created a great game that is fun to play - and of course, we want you to be the measuring stick of whether or not and to what extent we meet that goal. Of course without you, we wouldn't be here.
One of our current priority tasks is setting the Vision for Vanguard. We've come up with dozens upon dozens of elements that we believe will factor into determining the future path of Vanguard but it will take a few more weeks of fine tuning within our internal departments before we distill it down to the vision and have an agreed on list of critical success factors by which to measure all new development against. I'm not able to share the details at the moment but what I can say is that the desired end result of this exercise is to ensure that we produce high-quality game content and features that first and foremost fun to play.
Areas that we're going to make changes to
Optimizations; stability; optimizations; stability; optimizations; stability. I may be wrong but I think I see a pattern here. J Hey let's face it, Vanguard had some performance issues but we've made huge leaps since launch. If you've played since beta, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you had problems at launch and you haven't been back recently, you've got to give Vanguard another try. See for yourself how much has improved.
This bone is connected to that bone...Well, not any more!
Future optimization work you'll be seeing from us is focused on enhancing and optimizing our Player Character models. If you have a weak stomach, you may want to look away for a minute if you are closely attached to your character. (just kidding J) Seriously though, we're going through our first phase of character model improvements that will eliminate unnecessary bones. What does this mean for you? This means that your computer will not have to work as hard to render each character which means faster performance all around.
We're bringing sexy back...
After phase one is complete, we'll be moving onto phase two where we'll be increasing the visual quality of our character models. Not only will we be delivering you a character that is more appealing to the eye, but we'll also be delivering a model that utilizes fewer resources and is easier on your computer. Again, win-win for everyone! A brief update on this is that we're almost complete on our visual improvements with human characters and we'll be moving onto adjustments to animations and to the different body types.
Grouping! Traveling! "Dude, where's my
Holy smokes ~ the world of Telon is huge! And we recognize this. There are some fundamental challenges with a world of this size. It's difficult to meet up with other players on opposite sides of the world (especially if you haven't been there before); there are large areas between points of interest; the Riftway system doesn't display where and how you can use it ahead of time and you have to have a mount fairly early in order to explore and travel, etc... If you and your buddy log in to play together and you find yourselves spending more time trying to connect with each other than actually playing, there is something missing. It should be easy to group up in Vanguard. We know there are problems and we're discussing how to fix them right now. (Details coming soon!)
We're looking into the loot drop percentages and realize we've been a little cheap when it comes to loot rewards. We're going to tune this upward particularly at the lower levels and examine the mid and higher levels as well. At the end of your play session, we want you to feel like you accomplished something and were rewarded for the time you invested while playing.
Whether you log in and play for 30 minutes or for 3 hours, you should see and feel that you advanced your character. Now don't get me wrong. We don't want to create an "easy button" when it comes to leveling up but we definitely need to expedite the experience gain cycle to increase fun factor. We've made some steps already by adding Rest Experience and the ability to share experience within your Brotherhood, so we'll keep those in mind when discussing the percentage increase that we should take it up to in the near future.
Vanguard doesn't have enough tactics. We want to make changes in our combat tactics and one tactic or ability that comes to mind is Stun. Stunning an NPC while they are in the middle of casting a spell needs to be available during battle. This is an essential part of warfare tactics and we're going to fix items similar to this.
Death Penalties, do we need them to be so severe?
We're talking about this now and we think that there are enough penalties to dieing that we don't need to sock it to you with a loss of experience. I know there may be some purists or hard-core gamers out there that may disagree, but we think that we can offset the experience loss with item degradation combined with the hurdles of traveling back to the location where you died.
What else is coming?
In no particular order, here are a number of topics we are evaluating for change and improvement:
- Additional player housing
- Improved map; map icons that distinctly show points of interest
- City and Dungeon maps
- Readily available information showing you where you can adventure at your level
- Factions in towns
- Consistency - Streamlining hand off quests that lead you in the proper direction for character progression
- Changing some buff spells to group based
- Combat Visual Timing - Improve the timing on combat responsiveness (when you click on an ability, the action performed is in sync)
- Player power curve versus NPC power curve
- The ease of obtaining bags (especially at lower levels)
- Additional high-end content - Raid and Non-Raid content
- Increasing the Quest Journal size - Also adding organizational tabs to distinguish Adventuring quests from Diplomacy and Crafting quests
- Regional banks - remove them!
- UI improvements
- Alternate form of currency - Special "coins" to redeem at certain Vendors for obtaining items such as adventuring, diplomacy cards, titles, potions, etc.
- Alternate advancement or specialization for your character
How do you get a say in all of this?
I think I've exposed many topics that we'll be working on in the near future. I hope that you will find some of these issues at the top of your list of desired changes as well. However, if they are not at the top of your list, please feel free to post your comments regarding this newsletter in the discussion thread on our Vanguard forums.
Also, we're going to be posting more frequently on the forums to keep you informed and to answer questions that are on topic with our development focus. We understand that you have valuable feedback and when you do not hear a response back on a topic, it can be very frustrating. We're responsible for keeping you informed and we'll make changes in that area.
If I was in charge....
As an added bonus to you, we will be opening up a new Forum that is dedicated to you as a player and as our future developer. Essentially, we want to know what you would do with Vanguard if you were in the driver seat. It will be really cool for us to see the ideas and changes that you would make to the game if given the opportunity. So stay tuned to a Vanguard Forum near you!
As always, thank you for your continued support. We look forward to providing you with our continuing commitment to making this game great!
This was then followed up a couple days later by these additional comments from PhAtHoM!
"Don't make the game easier. Don't dumb down the game.... These are the statements that I see the most throughout the thread and I want to make sure that you understand that our intention is not to make the game easy nor dumb it down. Our intention is to fix the fundamental problems with the game and make this game enjoyable in every aspect. We want to have a game that is engaging and deep through many layers. We want Vanguard to be rich with content and storyline and all of these goals cannot be reached unless we examine all game mechanics and move forward to make positive changes. It will not be easy and it will take some time to do it right but if we keep you informed and get your feedback before changes are made, I think we can come up with some awesome resolutions.