I hemmed and hawed over it. It’d been installed for like a week. My finger hovered over the mouse button, cursor poised over the “Launch Game” button in the Station Launcher. The cursor drifted away back to Firefox and did some browsing, but the Launcher stayed open, all blue and tempting. Off goes the cursor again, and pauses… click.
The trigger pulled, today I was back in Vanguard. I hesitated for two reasons. One, because time is short right now and will be for the next two weeks, after which is my week-long “summer break” (I’m taking a class over the summer,) for part of which I will be out of town at an SCA event. I wanted to get as much as I could out of those 45 days, and maybe it would have been better to wait.
The second reason is more personal. Vanguard wasn’t my first MMO – that was EVE Online. But I started playing Vanguard very early on in my years in the MMO hobby. Lots of people had a formative experience in a certain game. For many, that was EverQuest, and for even more it was World of Warcraft. For me it was Vanguard. I may not have started playing MMOs with it, but I started blogging because of it, and that is still going strong now, more than four years and eight hundred posts later.
Even “Ardwulf” was the name of my Vanguard character. I’ve resisted the temptation that some fall prey to, of giving their characters the same name across every MMO. Ardwulf is and always has been in Telon. And today, he was again, for the first time in a long, long while.
My memories of Vanguard are very fond ones, but my last visit to Telon was frustrating, for reasons I don’t even remember clearly, but probably because I was trying to do stuff that was too difficult in the Wardship of the Sleeping Moon. Ardwulf never reached the level cap, or the end game. He never got around to buying a house or staying in a guild for long, or achieving his goal of building his own ship on which he could sail the seas of Telon. Even so, Vanguard was and remains something of a special home for me.
At the same time, Ardwulf the MMO gamer is a different fellow in 2011 than he was back in 2007. Real old-timers will roll their eyes at this, but back then everything was new and shiny and I wanted to see it all, so I did. I spent time in WoW, in EVE, in City of Heroes, in the EverQuests and in Star Wars Galaxies, and later in Age of Conan and Warhammer and Rift. By 2010 I’d tried a lot – about everything I’d wanted to try, so I started to settle in when I picked a game, which for a long while was WoW, which is a faily comfortable place to be – not too demanding and easy on the brain. But it seldom felt like a home. Telon was that home, and my fear in coming back was that I’d see the frustration and sourness instead and thereby taint the happy memory.
I didn’t. In fact, Vanguard is probably more appealing to Ardwulf 2011 than it was to Ardwulf 2007-8. I have a clearer idea of what I want out of an MMO than I did back then. Imperfect as it may be, Vanguard still comes closest to that ideal.
I said before that I was planning to log in and would “see how it went.” It went well. Well enough that, “main game” or not, you’re going to be seeing more Vanguard from me. I’m still thinking about what, and what I plan to do about the stuff I talked about yesterday, but there’s more to come.