PUBLISHER: Sony Online Entertainment DEVELOPER: Sigil Games GENRE: MMORPG RELEASE DATE: Winter 2006
Diplomacy lets you deal in factions and lore, advancing your character in ways that don’t involve combat.
“I think the biggest thing we’ve learned from WOW,” says McQuaid, “is that players rightfully expect a high degree of polish—in terms of gameplay, UI, or anything else, for that matter.”Hardcore and proud of it: Vanguard wants to lure folks away from WOW with increased challenge, meaningful player housing, and the intriguing field of diplomacy.

tell us that over 50 percent of all MMO players hang out in World of WarCraft— makes you wonder what kind of masochist would ever dream of making another one of these massively risky monsters. But Brad McQuaid, former EverQuest mastermind and current CEO of Sigil Games, developer of the upcoming unapologetically harder-core, highfantasy Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, thinks his game offers something that the Horde ranks don’t: “Freedom,” for one thing. “The ability to customize characters to a degree yet unseen in MMOs. Vanguard is more challenging, too— though challenge does not mean tedium.” So what to make of the fact that the corpse runs—EverQuest’s primary tedious fun-killer— are still a stubborn part of Vanguard’s design? “If you die in the depths of a dungeon, thepenalty should be higher than if you die on a
hill just outside of a friendly village,” explains McQuaid. “But when you die in Vanguard, an
entry in your travel journal leads back to your corpse. Right around level 10, the level where
you’ll fi rst need to do a corpse run, you’ll also have your fi rst mount.” In Vanguard, these
range from the usual horses to ships to fl ying mythical creatures, all of which pull doubleduty
as pack mules. McQuaid also expects players to carry multiple “situational” sets of gear with their mounts (which stay with you even after death). “We’ve pretty much eliminated the ‘naked’ corpse run that turns so many people off—and rightfully so.” OK, you’ve got our attention—go on.

Vanguard also offers a reason to get excited about player housing: mobility. “Many players
will want to keep their houses near areas designed for their level range, and as they
level up, they’ll be able to move—making their previous plot of land available again for new,
up-and-coming players,” McQuaid says. “Because these houses can be placed near adventure or harvesting areas that are around the same level range as [players] are, we’re not talking about long travel times back to your base of operations.”

But Vanguard’s loftiest desire is to bring the disparate spheres of character development— in this world, adventuring, crafting, and the experimental fi eld of diplomacy— into harmonious alignment. “A highlevel, multisphere encounter might be one where you need diplomats to convince the guardians of a dragon’s lair to permit you entrance,” says McQuaid. “You enter that lair in search of extremely rare dragon eggs—that goal being different from your original stated intent—that might be protected by dragons, in which case you’ll need a high adventuring
level to handle the encounter. Then you need to employ high-level harvesting skills to obtain the eggs…. You then sell the eggs or use your own crafting skills, perhaps leading to the production of a very rare and powerful potion.” But potent enough to break the almighty grip of WOW?


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