A vast, empty landscape stretches before Pus Pus, my Cat-Thing Psionist. Clouds swirl overhead, slipping across a starlit but moonless sky. Sparse trees dot a distant shore. Harmless bug-things scurry about in the brush. Where am I? Playing Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Why am I playing a game that was declared brain dead in December 2009 by the medical experts at Sony Online?
Because I must.
I must explore dying worlds, I must go where no one goes any more and I must bring the story of these empty expanses of crushed developer dreams, of endless fan tears, to you, my dear readers, in the hope that when the money finally runs out and these worlds are switched off for good we may look back fondly on these adventures and say to ourselves “surely that game was worthy of a better write-up than what this hack produced?”.
I’m going to start a new series – “Last Chance to See”. The plan is to play a number of dying online games before they are closed down for good. I’ll be part-digital botanist, part-pathologist, exploring vast, empty landscapes, half-finished worlds and empty promises.
First up will be Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, a fantasy MMO by Sigil Games (co-founded by Brad McQuaid, one of the lead designers of EverQuest). Launched in 2007, Vanguard started with 14 servers and now supports just two and hasn’t been updated since April 2010. How long will it keep on going? With no developers working on it can’t cost much to run so it seems likely Sony Online will let this undead MMO shamble across the internet for a while yet.
If you have any suggestions for further explorations, please let me know in the comments!
Bucaneer dropped me an email to let me know about his blog The Losing Move and the Shogun 2 AAR/Lets Play he’s working on. He’s done a great job, and the AAR is a fun read and well illustrated. Head over and give it a read!