Just last night I was writing a comment about how Sigil had only committed to Q1 for Vanguard and maybe even that was aggressive, but now I see (via GameBunny) this SOE press release announcing that Vanguard will be available on Tuesday, January 30th, 2007.
So that is it. Ready or not, here it comes! I hope I get access to the beta forum before that point, not that there will be time to read and review anything I might add.
I am intrigued/amused by the lead in fluff about the game, which says,
Currently in beta, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes features vibrant environments reminiscent of oil paintings, a robust character customization tool and three distinct spheres of advancement in a seamless world without zoning or instancing.
1) Currently in beta: Yes, and since they are now 19 days away from being done, they had better have a serious ace, in the form of a patch, up their sleeves if they are looking for a good opening day with lots of happy reviews. If it is going out as the game currently stands today they are not going to see that. I work in software, and have for 18 years now, so I know that miracles can occur in less than 19 days. But I also know that miracles work on their own schedule and do not care one whit for your release date.
2) Vibrant environments reminiscent of oil paintings: Ah, they have seen how fast the game plays on my machine (which falls in the “recommended configuration” range) when I get out of the lowest level of detail setting. Reminiscent of an oil painting is about right. Yet I keep seeing these great screen shots, especially on Journeys with Jaye, so there seems to be some validity to the statement. I have a new video card coming in this week, so perhaps that will allow me to experience these vibrant environments at some decent frames per second.
3) Robust character customization tool: Of course I went to Merriam-Webster online to get the definition of “robust,” just to make sure I was fully armed for this one. They have six definitions. Given the options, I chose number six:
of, relating to, resembling, or being a relatively large, heavyset australopithecine (especially Australopithecus robustus and A. boisei) characterized especially by heavy molars and small incisors adapted to a vegetarian diet
I have already demonstrated that one can indeed create australopithecines in the Vanguard character creation tool, so I am with them on this, though I could easily have gone with definitions 2 or 3.
4) Three distinct spheres of advancement: Two of which won’t matter a lick if the main sphere, adventuring, is not fun.
5) Seamless world: Well, three cheers for that at least! I heartily endorse this seamless world concept.
So how will this do on January 30th? What will people see when they run home and install that evening (and patch) and (maybe) log in to the game? Will there be enough there, through all the problems that happen on the first day of any MMO release, to make people want to keep playing?
I think back to day one of EverQuest. I could barely play the game. I got kicked off of the server regularly. But I could see that it was something I had to play. If they cannot get that feeling from people, there is going to be much disappointment as history shows that bouncing back from a bad launch in the MMO world is very tough.