Producer's Letter - July Edition

Discussion in 'News and Announcements' started by Rahtiz, Jul 24, 2013.

  1. Rahtiz Developer

    Greetings all!

    It has been a little while since I have posted a new Producer’s Letter and figured it was about time for another one describing what we’ve been up to as of late and what you can look forward to in the near to immediate future.

    If you haven’t had a chance to log into the game in a while you’ll probably notice that the new network layer is in. While this won’t solve all of the issues that we have had since the launch of Vanguard, what it will do is help us track down problematic areas of latency where we will be able to examine and resolve. Before this, we didn’t really have an adequate way of troubleshooting these issues. Over the next several weeks or longer you should see us post asking for players to help us test our certain encounters to track down more and more issues.

    Besides the network work that has been done we have also managed to provide several other updates. Let’s start with the myriad amount of long standing bugs that we have been going through and fixing. (Currently, we’ve fixed over fifty long standing bugs!) We understand that there are plenty more to nail down but each update you should be able to see more and more being tackled. As for larger content offerings, the first one that came out was Old Targonor. With Old Targonor, players were able to battle through new encounters and quests. This was produced with the plan to bridge the issue players had post 50 with content and gear. It also allowed us the ability to help groom future raiders by introducing entry level raid mechanics to several of the encounters.

    This week’s update brings changes to Falgarholm. Those of you familiar with the area can attest that this area was never really brought to the same level of polish that you would expect from Vanguard. As we still are gaining new players to Vanguard we need to continue to polish the existing world and provide a rock solid experience for these players as they journey through Telon. Although Falgarholm is not a high end zone, we haven’t forgotten about plans for our end game players.

    As some may remember from previous Producer Letters, I mentioned that we were working on Pankor Zhi. This area has not been forgotten about but is definitely going to be a long-term project for us. I would rather let you all know that as soon as we realize it as well rather than to have you expecting it to come sooner than later. With this said, there has been mention of us working on Cave of Wonders. I am here to let you all know that this is definitely the case. In the upcoming weeks you’ll hear more about what we have planned for the area, as well as testing that we will definitely need help with. This area is going to be something we all think you’ll be excited with, no matter which sphere is your favorite.

    With that said, I want to spend some time discussing what has been going on behind the scenes as of late. With several of the updates we’ve had lately we know that we’ve introduced some major issues. Obviously this is never our intent, but with some of the changes that we have been making to stacking rules and run speed there has been growing pains. Going forward, we will try and be more forthcoming with the information and communicate why we are doing what we feel is necessary to continue to develop for Vanguard.

    Continuing on the communications theme, we figured that it would probably be a good time to refresh everyone on where to post what.
    • /bug
      • When it comes to reporting bugs in-game, please make use of the /bug command. We do read these and the more information you can give regarding what abilities you were using, what you may have had equipped, or anything else relevant to the issue would be appreciated. Please try and remember this as getting random petitions for lost items or any other GM related issue slows us down with fixing actual bugs in-game.
    • /petition
      • This command is there to aid you when you really need to speak to a Game Master regarding a lost item, an issue with completing a quest, or any other in-game issue that renders your gaming experience to become less enjoyable.
    • Forums
      • As many of you have already noticed, there are locations on the forums for support, news and announcements, and general game play discussions. We have started to update the Test forums with what is currently on the Test Server and hopefully many of you will start to read them more regularly. This will be where we ask for your help with testing larger scale items going forward.

    Lastly, as this Letter is starting to become a wall of text, we will be posting on the Developer Roundtable section of the forums this week with posts revolving around some of the recent changes and the reasoning behind them. Each topic will have its own posting and we would appreciate it if everyone stayed on the topic at hand as we know everyone wants the same thing in the end, to continue experiencing great things in Vanguard. We welcome you all to participate in the discussions and provide any and all constructive insight you may have in order to make this process as smooth and open as possible.

    As always, see you in-game, and for those attending SOE Live, we will see you next week! We have a lot in-store for those headed to SOE Live this year. Besides our exciting panels, we will be having a Live event as well. It is one I hope everyone that attends will take part in as it is something we thought would work well with what Vanguard is to us all.

    Harvey “Rahtiz” Burgess

    Schiller, Dosi and Wigin like this.
  2. Claviarm Active Member

    The "level of polish I expect from Vanguard," based on my experience, is a very low bar indeed. I fully expect to encounter broken and bugged content everywhere I go, and I don't believe I've yet been 'disappointed' in that regard on those rare occasions that I log in. This isn't a shot at you; I just thought it was a questionable phrase to invoke considering this game's history. :p You're working to improve that, and that's a fine goal.

    Also, I find it sad that you feel the need to offer an explanation for daring to work on content for someone other than entrenched veterans sitting at the level cap. Not surprising, just sad.

    (And hey, come on, "wall of text" refers to a lack of whitespace, not just to length. If the walls of the SOE building have giant gaps in them, something is very wrong.)
    Zatzmanzatz and Sinisna like this.
  3. Lonestryder New Member

    Thank you for the communication.
  4. Amnath Active Member

    Sounds pretty good to me. I have zero experience in Falgarholm as no one was running it and then it was evacuated. It may have bugs or breaks on day one, but if more future changes and additions have clear announcements that they are up for testing, believe that some of the growing pains can be alleviated.
  5. Kilsin Well-Known Member

    There was no real "new" information in this post at all...just rehashing what issues have stood out the most and that the player base has brought to the Devs attention by way of forum uproar.

    This is I can't see a long future with Vanguard when this is all we get in a producers letter, which we have waited a while for and doesn't actually explain properly why these changes are being made, and why we are being nerfed or made to wait for fixes while still having nothing to do at end game.

    My guild is falling apart from people leaving that are sick and tired of game breaking bugs not only being introduced for no apparent reason or testing with supposed "fixes" but then being left in game to enrage the player base and not even commented on until enough people complain about it on the forums, it's appalling to say the least, my guildies and friends are leaving in droves because these bugs (and previous ones) that continue to persist and get introduced/reintroduced into the game, not only ruin their gaming experience but also makes some of the classes completely unplayable in any kind of meaningful capacity.

    I am trying to not sound bitter here, but it is extremely hard after having lost so much, watched so many friends leave and when no amount of communication on our behalf was going to change that it becomes quite frustrating to say the least, I should be used to it after 7 years of this kind of punishment from SOE but it continues to affect my friends and I.

    I am finding it very hard to log in these days and I know a lot of others feeling the same way and it is directly related to the latest bugs, nerfs and lack of TWO WAY communication and the direction in which Vanguard is heading, no matter which way you try and twist it or word the explanations, the bottom line is that it is ruining peoples fun and gaming experiences which is why most of us play the game in the first place and sadly I don't think anyone actually cares that it's happening as there has been no real effort to mitigate the loss of players or demise of guilds, which is very sad indeed.

    Lock boxes containing BiS items to crashing, flight bugs, speed bugs and your general everyday VG issues plus the heavy watering down of the game so much so now, that it's pretty much a cake walk for anyone who can operate a keyboard with their forehead and all these changes have pretty much ruined this game and it's unique experience in my opinion.

    I have so much more to say but I am just not going to bother one seems to listen or care, so I am going to take the same approach.
  6. Amnath Active Member

    To connect some dots, an important part of them being able to design two large high-level encounter areas is a substantial re-working of the current buff system. Yes, most of that stuff should be more thoroughly tested before release, I really hope they do announce any and all changes with enough advance so some people will go to test. I don't like losing a weapon block or getting stuck in 60% quicksand. Those were repaired within a few days.

    This letter was only a piece of whatever he has. I'm not attempting to trivialize anyone's long-term discontent, but to compare the problems of today versus the old problems that killed off multiple servers mostly over performance...I don't know, it just seems to run much better over the time I have been here. Not everyone is shelling out plat to buy some goodies, and if we had to tell everyone who might come along, that's great, but it will take you three years to catch up to what everyone else is doing...not sure how much retention there would be from that angle. I don't really jibe with some of the design changes, but overall, if it's going to increase in power, it needs a bit of a bridging mechanism as well.
  7. Leavwiz Well-Known Member

    the falgerholm example is a good snapshot of why the playerbase is drifting away. not long ago we got new/improved content in lomshir. both of these revamps were to add / polish content for an extremely small percentage of the players that might actually go there as part of their journey (now expedited by xp pots and bonus xp) to visit for an hour or two. In the meantime we are bleeding long-term players that typically spend hours with their guildies on end-game quests and raid targets that are just plain tired of broken stuff not being fixed and new things being broken or laggy from the start. The message it sends is that the team is willing to spend time tinkering with content that few will even bother with consuming precious dev time rather than actually fix broken stuff or generate meaningful end game content. this combined with all the preparatory work (runspeed, buff stacking) for new content that has broken so much in game is leaving guild leaders dumbstruck as they watch people take "breaks" from the game. Much of this could have been averted by open communication months ago. Hopefully this letter reflects a changing communication plan for the future.
  8. Glenzig Well-Known Member

    I get where the frustration is coming from. However, I do think we all need to remember that in addition to retaining veterans of the game, VG needs to retain new players and those who have returned from the botched launch of 6 years ago. It's certainly easier to rework, revamp and polish lower and mid level content like Lomshir and Falgarholm than it is to populate and add quest lines for areas like PZ and CoW. I know we're all waiting for that next big raid event/dungeon, and have been for literally years now. But, there are those that are new to the game who will hopefully be the new playerbase for years to come. There has to be a good flow of content for them or they will leave the game. I know I will catch a lot of grief for saying this but, the vets that are "taking breaks" will be back in a hot second when new endgame content is released. But if they are the only ones in game, what will it matter?

    The last patch really seems to have ruined the credibility of this dev team. Everyone is up in arms about the speed changes. I still don't get the entire idea behind it. But, one thing is for sure. The current gear and buffs coupled with diplos are going to make any new content a nightmare to try to design, especially with a coding system that was obviously patched and duct taped together. So I think I understand why they are making that move now, so as to smooth out new content. At least that's what I hope.

    At the end of the day, VG, as much as I love it, is still just a game. I play it because I choose to. It's a very, very fun hobby. But it's not worth all of the worry and drama that some people seem to put into it. It's going to be what it's going to be. As long as it's here and I'm having fun, I'm good.
    Lonestryder likes this.
  9. Krolk Active Member

    I really look forward to this and hopefully this will start to include future changes as well.
  10. Apaelias Well-Known Member

    I see a whole lot more people coming in to the game blowing through content, getting like lvl 52 and then leaving. There is already tons of content to do from 1-50. There is a seriously lack of content post 55? How many times have you rolled an alt to experience content you missed going from 1-50? How many times have you rolled an alt to do content you missed from 50-55+?
    Kilsin, Leavwiz and Mombasa like this.
  11. Graye Well-Known Member

    Maybe if they stopped trying to funnel players into "golden" content paths, it would be more apparent. That there is a butt load of content available. I bet a majority of the new players never do the shrine of the flame quests, vault of heroes, south watch, jathred's twist, vault of the hidden, karrus hakkrel, lyceum, spires keep, lost canyon, etc...

    Players get funneled from creation to iod or a starting area, then to 3r, tolt, or qa, then URT/HL lines, then veksals/tod/cis, then generally river valley/cragwind/vt/dt, then seawatch/tj/poa/trickster's, then tot/ri/swamps, and now ot/mh to cap out to lvl 55

    The sandbox is turned into a highway... By pointing characters where to go, rather than "allowing" them to choose. Most of this is driven by gear rewards and quantity of xp quests... But also facilitated by development.
    Kilsin, Thretosix, Billham and 2 others like this.
  12. Mombasa Member


    How many times have we heard these same words now? We will listen, start to communicate blah blah blah.

    I don't belive it till I see it.

    Same old news, just wrapped in new paper.

    Edit Oh and alittle side remark, Servers are now down, No patch notes been posted, haven't been on test server at all. Are we going to have a weekend like the last one?
  13. Glenzig Well-Known Member

    Umm. Yeah Zat posted yesterday afternoon that servers were coming down for an update. Patch notes don't typically get posted until patching is either done or nearly done.
  14. Glenzig Well-Known Member

    I hear ya. But if people are leaving at 52ish as you say, then new content at 55 would hardly be the solution to that. Honestly with the addition of OT quests, I would say 50-55 content is pretty solid right now. If people are going to blow through content and leave then that's just what they are going to do regardless of the amount of content there is. There is still months, if not a year or more content for a fresh player in their 50's to tackle at present. If they are leaving at 52ish, what could be done to stop that? Building new content for the 55 end game raiding crowd in VG is a pretty monumental task if you really sit and think about it. Especially for the small dev team we have. As much as everyone hates it, we'll just have to wait for it.
  15. Mombasa Member

    Oh I know it was posted the servers were coming down. But in the spirit of open communication, why are the patch notes kept a secret?
  16. Glenzig Well-Known Member

    Now we'll never ever know what this patch is for!!! I hate my life!!!!
  17. Mombasa Member

    Oh jezz, what are you? 2?
  18. Graye Well-Known Member

    The major part was that the new lockbox item made you unkillable..
  19. Exmortis Well-Known Member


    Well I am first glad to see the letter, it has been far too long indeed for some communication from the top. Although I do not feel as strongly as Kilsin, I do very much understand where he is coming from. I will start by saying what is good, the network code has helped, we have seen some real bug quashing, but from what I see we still are not seeing the raid lag issues go away and in game lag can still affect chunks, and gameplay, but we have had clear progress. The release of OT is great and soon once summer is over I hope to indulge in this new dungeon. I am excited about Falgarholm, the North Eastern Thestra is one of my favorite areas and I was remiss it never saw completion. I hope to see continuation with Dark Eye Hold, Frostshard Lake and beyond here fleshed out as a great run from mid 30s to 50s.

    I am glad to see updates hitting test server first, never hurts to give people a heads up, and if changes hit one of our chars we can zip on over and give it a test, and provide feedback.

    Now for the bad, although the speed buff change wasn’t for me so much of a big deal to get my panties in a bunch, it does point to a bigger issue. Massive game changes being forced into the game that have wide sweeping implications and effects, being almost stealthed in. I know things require change, we know your updating some of the worst code ever written, but it does leave us kind shell shocked. You have systematically reduced run speeds across the game, with so much as a “Hey we have to clean up this code” conversation.

    Kilsin also points to a more serious issue, and as much as I am in some weird way relieved that is a problem not just felt by my guild, I am saddened that its coming from one of our long standing established guilds. Player retention with new/returning players is terrible, in fact its less than 1 in 20. The game has more players, but it is not retaining anywhere near what it should, its crippling. In Brains and Brawn we seem to go through a few months of great growth and have loads of new and returnee’s join. Few months later and most of those accounts no longer login, ever. As well every few months we lose veterans.

    In my opinion the biggest problem we have is the same one we have had for many many years now. No clear concise future plans, no clear concise goals of where to bring the game. I am not just talking content here, it’s the whole deal, the big picture. You will hear vets speak of watering down, dumbing down, and this just keeps on trickling in with no clear destination for the changes? Speed change aside, which I can see the idea behind it, what is the ultimate goal? I mean we hit steam when the game was virtually impossible to play, great way to introduce the masses to Vanguard: Saga of Lag. From F2P conversion on, we have been slapped with change after change that seem to have no clear cohesion to a ultimate goal, or at least no logical one I can see myself.

    I know you have not been in the chair the whole time for Vanguard’s oft dismal saga, but you know? I have stated that so many times to whomever is in the chair it’s just hollow words. But the idea of making Vanguard loved by the masses by watering it down, and making it more “Accessible” has failed utterly. This, as stated many times by vets in previous F2P threads, was not the problem. Dumbing down the experience 1-10 was not going to change the player issue, removing the racial starters down to 3 was not going to solve the problem. Not fixing long standing issues like stairs, griffon quest, events that have player ports leaving people behind thus screwing the event, unfinished areas for years, and most of all no clear concise vision of where we all headed, and a revolving door of upper development leadership just makes it all worse, as where we might be headed changes with each one, and trail of broken promises reads like a political journal of each past government. Not to mention years of complete and utter neglect.

    I was really hoping for more, not more content announcements, not more “hey were fixing a few bugs”, I think I will have many who agree, we wanted substance. We want to know what the long term vision is, a vision that precedes who may be sitting in your chair in 3 months from now, you or another. We want to know that short hardship is for the greater goal, that having to play through broken abilities and reduced effects paving a way forward for the game as a whole. We want to feel that the game is, or will progress, that there is a future beyond a few new raid mobs, and the revamp of unfinished content. What does the story of Vanguard hold? Where is this taking us? Do not get me wrong, everything added is great, we all love content, but it feel hacked in sometimes, bolted on, changes that break as much as they fix without warning give us a disjointed view of the game and its future. Rehashed models and art over and over again isn’t helping either.

    Everybody knows you have a small team, limited art resources and code work time. But we can all look past these, we can all live with reality, if we had any idea of what that reality was.

    That’s what I was hoping for here, and at SoE Live Vanguard panels......
    Femic, Kilsin, Apaelias and 5 others like this.
  20. Himminy Active Member

    When we heard Hobart was working on the Network Layer code, everyone rejoiced. We had no problem waiting. When you said you fell behind due to this problem or that problem, no one batted an eyelash. We still cheered you on.
    You know why?
    Because you were communicating with us, and doing something that EVERYONE knew needed to be done. Everyone knew this was something that everyone would benefit from, something that would be a boon to Vanguard in the LONG RUN.
    Because you used the TEST server! While we all know going from test to live is still apples to oranges, it helps going to test first, and we all know this. Catching quick and easy things, that you as dev's wouldn't usually do that people who play every day do, makes things go that much smoother.
    Because you finished what you started. You FOLLOWED through. Yes there were hurdles and things came up during and after. But you guys stuck it out, and vanguard is better for it. Not left hanging half finished with a couple old problems replaced with new bigger ones.

    How you handle this next system revamp will determine which Pantheon of the Dev Gods you belong to.

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