Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

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Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
Vanguard Saga of Heroes.jpg
Developer(s)Sigil Games Online
Sony Online Entertainment
Publisher(s)Sony Online Entertainment
Producer(s)David Gilbertson
Brad McQuaid
Designer(s)Salim Grant
Darrin McPherson
Bill W. Fisher
Programmer(s)Amanda Tarr
Artist(s)Keith Parkinson
Lee Harker
Ben Thompson
Composer(s)Todd Masten
EngineUnreal Engine 2
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
ReleaseJanuary 30, 2007
Early access: January 26, 2007

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was a high fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by Sigil Games Online and published by Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). The game was released on January 30, 2007 and initially sold around 242,000 copies, while the number of active subscriptions (those who play longer than the free month included when buying the game) was estimated to be around 130,000,[1] to drop in the next months to about 40,000.[2] On May 15, 2007, it was announced in a press release that Sony Online Entertainment had acquired key assets from Sigil Games Online, including all rights to Vanguard.[3][4]

Following the acquisition by SOE, the focus shifted to bug fixes and gameplay improvements, allowing the game to reach a more presentable state by July, 2008.[5] On September 10, 2008, Game Update 6[6] introduced the long-awaited trial island, the Isle of Dawn, which also quickly became the standard starting area for new regular characters. On October 8, 2008, the trial version was released.[7][8] On August 14, 2012, Vanguard transitioned to a free to play model. The game was officially shut down on July 31, 2014.


As typical of MMORPGs, characters in Vanguard: Saga of Heroes were created by the player. The name, gender, race, and adventuring class of the player character were chosen and could not be changed later. Twelve characters could be created on one account and the character's appearance could be modified by the player at any time after character creation, from the character selection screen. The player could start the game in either the starting area of their chosen race or in the trial zone called the Isle of Dawn. The player also had the option of picking a crafter class and two harvester skills.[citation needed]

Solo play was possible, but, as in many MMORPGs, the classes differed in their solo performance because of the unequal distribution of crucial abilities. Typical soloing strategies, such as self-healing, kiting and fear kiting, were only available to some classes; likewise, controlling fights with crowd control, avoiding fights with stealth or invisibility, and terminating lost fights with fake death or emergency evacuation teleports was not possible for all classes. Some classes, such as the Necromancer, had more soloing options, while some others, like the Warrior, were more narrowly focused. Player vs player (PvP) was available on the Sartok FFA PvP server, in the PvP arenas, or on PvE servers using the /duel command. This aspect of gameplay had never been a priority for the developers. Vanguard classes were therefore not balanced with PvP in mind, and some classes were much more capable in this regard than others. For example, the maximum damage of a single attack was restricted to 20% of a target's maximum hitpoints, but certain classes could combine multiple instant attacks, resulting in "one-shotting", or immediately killing other players in one shot with no chance for the victim to fight back.[citation needed]

The second sphere of Vanguard was Crafting, and involved creating in-game items using 'recipes' and raw materials. Crafting recipes were a set of actions that had to be performed in a particular order to produce a final result. Each of these actions costed 'action points', taken from an action pool. The maximum number of action points available varied with each recipe. During the crafting process, 'complications' could arise which affected the crafting process, usually, but not always negatively. The crafter could attempt to correct complications or resume crafting and deal with the consequences or benefits of ignoring the complications. 'Diplomacy' is a concept unique to, or at least first introduced by, Vanguard. It was basically a card game inspired in style and rules by collectible card games. Diplomats could enable certain citywide 'civic' buffs and gain certain special items needed for end-game content such as Guild Houses, the Griffon Mount, and other important end-game quests. Harvesting formed a fourth, simple sphere. Characters had a general harvest skill, which controlled how well one could help others with their harvest, and could choose two out of five harvest types they wanted to specialize in, out of the pool of Mining Metal Ore, Quarrying Stone Slabs and Gemstone Samples, Lumberjacking Wood Timbers, Skinning Leather Hides, and Reaping Cloth Bales. Rechoosing these skills was possible, but all previous progress was then lost.[citation needed]

Vanguard was set in a high fantasy world called "Telon", unusual among MMO worlds in that it was almost entirely persistent, with no instancing or load screens. Telon did not have "zones" in the manner of most fantasy MMOs, but there were discrete areas, sometimes called "chunks" which delineated content to some extent and served to provide general geographical reference points. The world contained 19 playable races, many of which were drawn from or inspired by traditional high fantasy sources such as the work of J. R. R. Tolkien and the tabletop fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. There were three "continents" in the world of Telon. Each were reachable by direct, contiguous travel from the other continents, via air or sea, or by NPC boat from the major ports of call. There were various ways to travel through Telon, besides simple walking on land: by mount (horse), by player-crafted ships, by a riftway, and by flying mounts. Vanguard players could build two houses per server per account.[citation needed] Telon contained a large number of dungeons with a broad range of size and theme, found in many types of locations; some were very large, and many were above-ground structures or even outdoor adventure areas rather than traditional catacombs as such. Although most of the dungeon content were aimed at the 'full-group' encounter (six players) there were numerous areas, particularly at the lower levels, designed for solo play and small groups (2-3 players). All dungeons but one were open "public" dungeons; there was no instancing anywhere in Telon with the exception of the Ancient Port Warehouse (APW), added to Vanguard by SOE in late 2007. There were a total of six copies of APW, called "shards," and any new raid force had to choose which of the six copies to enter. Vanguard also featured several overland raid encounters.[citation needed]

Development history[edit]

Sigil's original Vanguard team was composed of many EverQuest developers, including designer Brad McQuaid. Development began in early 2002 and a publishing deal with Microsoft was announced in April 2002. The game's title was announced on March 16, 2004, exactly five years after EverQuest was released. Sigil displayed the game's first screenshots in April 2004 and announced that Vanguard would use Unreal Engine 2.0 in May 2004.[citation needed] In May 2006 Sigil reacquired the marketing rights to Vanguard: Saga of Heroes from Microsoft and announced that Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) would become the co-publishers. Sigil maintained full control of development, funding, intellectual property rights, and in-game customer service (in the form of the Game Master and Guide programs). Although SOE was responsible chiefly for marketing, publication, distribution, subscription services and maintenance of game servers, some of SOE's game designers and artists did participate directly in Vanguard's development.[9] During an interview in early January 2014 Brad McQuaid revealed that Vanguard had a development budget of $30,000,000.00.[10] He said that compared to World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic or The Elder Scrolls Online Vanguard's budget was 'fractional' for such an ambitious game, which put a lot of stress on the development team.

Beta Testing for the game began in-house in August 2005 and continued until January 23, 2007. Pre-orders were opened on January 26, and the game officially launched worldwide on January 30 to lukewarm reviews and widespread criticism.

This partnership represented a homecoming of sorts for Sigil CEO Brad McQuaid who was - along with Sony Online Entertainment CEO John Smedley, Bill Trost and Steve Clover—one of the four original developers of EverQuest for SISA (Sony Interactive Studios America renamed Verant Interactive in 1999).

On May 15, 2007, Sony Online Entertainment announced they had acquired all assets of Sigil and retained over half the developers of Vanguard to work for Sony and to continue developing Vanguard. Brad McQuaid gave an interview two days later to but since then has not made any public comments about the game. On Dec 22 2009, the team outlined the road map for the game in the year ahead. Due to limited resources and a new focus on bug elimination over ambitious content releases, some of the game's anticipated updates were shelved indefinitely.

SOE announced on May 31, 2007[11] their intention to begin merging servers; the mergers were completed in August 2007. All player-owned housing was reset at this time, causing some controversy among the player community. The mergers left Vanguard without a dedicated role-playing server and without a team-based player-versus-player server. These servers were merged into two servers on July 7, 2010.[citation needed]

Following the acquisition by SOE, the developers mainly focused on bug fixes and gameplay improvements for a long time. In July 2008, the developers announced they wanted to attract old and new players as the game had reached a much more presentable state.[12] On September 10, 2008, Game Update 6[13] finally introduced the long-awaited trial island, the Isle of Dawn, which also quickly became the standard starting area for new regular characters. On October 8, 2008, the trial version was released.[14][15]

On March 12, 2009, SOE announced that it would add its LiveGamer Exchange RMT (real money trading) service to Vanguard, which allowed trading game money, items, and whole characters between players, for real currency.[16] On July 7, 2010, the three remaining US game servers were merged into one,[17] bringing the total number of Vanguard servers down to two. After a long hiatus, new game content was announced at the end of July 2011.[18] A game update was released on August 10, 2011,[19] with another at August 24, 2011.[20] On March 21, 2012, SOE announced that Vanguard would become free-to-play in summer 2012.[21] On August 14, 2012, Vanguard became free to play. On January 24, 2014, Sony Online Entertainment announced that the game would be shut down on July 31, 2014.[22] On July 31, 2014, at 9:00 PM, the game officially shut down. The game website now redirects to Daybreak Game Company.


GameSpy awarded Vanguard the "Biggest Disappointment" award for 2007.[23] Vanguard also won the awards in the categories for "Least Fun", "Most Desolate" and "Lamest Launch" in the MMOWTF Awards for the worst games of 2007.[24]

In both May and August 2008, revisited Vanguard and gave the updated version a favorable response.[25]

The game initially sold around 242,000 copies, while the number of active subscriptions (those who play longer than the free month included when buying the game) was estimated to be around 130,000,[26] to drop in the next months to about 40,000.[27]

Rating Details/Link
D- Vanguard: Saga of Heroes Review on 1up
C+ Vanguard: Saga of Heroes Review on Game-Revolution
7.5/10 Vanguard: Saga of Heroes Review on GameSpot
3/5 Vanguard: Saga of Heroes Review on GameSpy


  1. ^ "Interview with anonymous Ex-Sigl member". Retrieved 2007-05-16.
  2. ^ "MMOGCHART". Retrieved 2008-05-05.
  3. ^ Sony Online Entertainment (May 15, 2007). Sony Online Entertainment Acquires Leading Online Games Studio -- Sigil Games Online Archived 2007-05-28 at Press release.
  4. ^ "Official Forum Message: SOE and Vanguard, by Smed, from the SoE Management". Archived from the original on 2007-05-23. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
  5. ^ "Vanguard Producer's Letter". Retrieved 2008-07-03.
  6. ^ "Vanguard Game Update 6 Patch Notes". Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  7. ^ "Isle of Dawn - When will it be stand alone?". Retrieved 2008-10-09.
  8. ^ "Vanguard - Trial Download". Retrieved 2008-10-09.
  9. ^ "Vanguard Forums - View Single Post - SOE now doing dev work on VG". Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2007-01-18.
  10. ^ boogie2988 (2014-01-30), Interview with Brad McQuaid - Everquest, Vanguard, Pantheon, archived from the original on 2021-12-12, retrieved 2016-02-28
  11. ^ Vanguard – Saga of Heroes
  12. ^ "Vanguard Producer's Letter". Retrieved 2008-07-03.
  13. ^ "Vanguard Game Update 6 Patch Notes". Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  14. ^ "Isle of Dawn - When will it be stand alone?". Retrieved 2008-10-09.
  15. ^ "Vanguard - Trial Download". Retrieved 2008-10-09.
  16. ^ "Coming soon to Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Live Gamer Exchange". Retrieved 2009-04-07.
  17. ^ "Vanguard July 2010 Server Merge". Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  18. ^ "New Content Coming to Vanguard: Saga of Heroes". Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  19. ^ "Game Update – Wednesday August 10, 2011 at 4:00 am Pacific". Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  20. ^ "Game Update – Wednesday August 24, 2011 at 4:00 am Pacific". Archived from the original on 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2011-08-24.
  21. ^ "Exciting Vanguard Announcement – March 2012 Producer Letter". Retrieved 2012-12-22.
  22. ^ Fahey, Mike (24 January 2014). "Sony Online Entertainment Shuts Down Four MMOs". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  23. ^ "GameSpy's Game of the Year 2007". Archived from the original on 2008-01-06. Retrieved 2008-01-07.
  24. ^ - Your Headquarters for Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games!
  25. ^ "Correspondent - How I Came Back to Vanguard".
  26. ^ "Interview with anonymous Ex-Sigl member". Retrieved 2007-05-16.
  27. ^ "MMOGCHART". Retrieved 2008-05-05.

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