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A Farewell to Galaxies

Dennis C. Scimeca | 8 Aug 2011 09:00
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Out in the real world, I was powerless. Time was the only remedy for what I was going through. Galaxies provided a way to fight the crushing weight of that reality. It was a world where I could take on a new role, make a difference by helping other people, and engage in constant, dynamic changes that shaped an entire community. Where the real world made me feel helpless, Galaxies made me feel empowered. Perhaps my compulsion to go back was about showing respect for a game that had done so much for me.

If there had been dust and cobwebs in the abandoned City Halls and player houses, the experience would have been much less distressing.

The world of Galaxies that I left in late 2005 was not the world I found upon my return to the unofficial roleplaying server of Starsider in mid-2011. I had long since concluded from the news of character transfers and server shutdowns that the game was on life support, but I never expected to find such a shambling corpse of an MMO.

I had been an arch-roleplayer in my time on Starsider, playing the part of an Imperial Intelligence officer, and organizing all the major Imperial guilds for the Galactic Civil War metagame. I used to host events for hundreds of people, sometimes with official support from Sony Online Entertainment. Yet with all the hundreds of personal connections I made in Galaxies, I've only seen two people from my friends list online since my return.

The only place I consistently found groups of players was outside the Mos Eisley starport, their avatars more often than not marked as "away from keyboard" and using automated /shout commands to hock wares that won't even exist in five months.

Going to visit player cities was like being on an archeological dig and finding perfectly preserved communities and wondering who used to live there and what kind of a people they were. If there had been dust and cobwebs in the abandoned City Halls and player houses, the experience would have been much less distressing.

I found my house, a mansion on the planet Naboo, shortly after I logged back on for the first time. Everything was precisely as I'd left it. There were paintings on every wall, an art museum in the main lobby, and a fully decorated bedroom filled with trophies and reminiscences of past adventures. I found the lounge on the second floor decorated with Empire banners and recruitment posters on the walls, where I'd met with countless Imperial guild leaders. That house had been my nerve center, and for a long time, the home that mattered most, and eventually I came to see this state of affairs as a serious problem.

I had taken advantage of the fury over the New Game Enhancements to yank myself out of Galaxies without feeling like I was abandoning it. The medical issues that had inspired losing myself so thoroughly in the game had been addressed, and stripped of any therapeutic justification, my relationship with Galaxies was beginning to feel unhealthy. When the veteran Galaxies players stormed away from the game in anger, I decided it was best to rip the bandage right off, and went with them. Slighted Galaxies players can still pop up and seethe over the NGE in the comments sections of articles dealing with Galaxies or Sony Online Entertainment, but Galaxies players had put up with years of instability prior to the New Game Enhancements.

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