A Farewell to Galaxies

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Galaxies summed up: A lot of fantastic ideas all executed half-assed. (I mean seriously, weeds and spawn points popping up between buildings in player cities?)

But how can you possibly blame the people that left? What's the first thing people say when someone says they don't like something about a game? "YEA WELL LEAVE IF YOu DON'T LIKE IT!!"

Well that's what those players did, they voiced their opinion by stopping their subscription, but SOE didn't listen to what customers wanted. Customers are not to blame for doing what everyone tells customers to do and talk with their wallet

I left early when the mystery of unlocking force sensitive character was revealed not to be a random selection, not GM selection, not based on roleplay, not based on deicision, but instead based on HOLOCRONS that told you to grind 3 professions to their max level.

That was the first mass exodus, but it's not MY fault THEY made a decision that made people leave. It was a stupid idea to make Jedi a pure grind to unlock, and it was stupid to make them a starting class that had to be balanced with the weaker classes.

Dennis Scimeca:
A Farewell to Galaxies

Dennis Scimeca returns to Star Wars Galaxies one last time before the servers shut down, and finds himself wondering if it was ever really the game he thought it was.

Read Full Article

I also have to say that I'm in complete agreement on things like housing, crafting, entertaining, and the like -- these were the things that elevated this above an online adventure game and made it a virtual world. That's the sort of thing that used to be worth paying monthly "rent" on that virtual real estate.

And these were left almost completely untouched by the awful (and "iconic") NGE update, because they were seen as inconsequential. The most dynamic and enduring aspects of SWG were treated like the least important, and that neglect is the only thing that kept them around long enough for me to have re-subscribed more than once over the intervening years.

No one does these things anymore, either. And I have to ask, "WHY NOT?!" Adventuring has seen very little progress over the years. PvP in any game is only as good as its playerbase, and a lot of those hyper-competitive folks have pretty short attention spans (or they get bored fighting the same 30 people all the time). The token "housing" instances other games have are just storage space, because they serve no purpose in the world that brings other people to them. Crafting in other MMOs is just a simple one-step collection game (get widgets, make them into armor).

In a sense, the NGE isn't the biggest problem. The fact that the NGE killed SWG is the problem, because it shows how the MMO world gave up on making game worlds that were worth continuous payment schemes. Since then, folks pay monthly out of habit alone, never asking why they're not getting anything deeper than a single-player, ten-years-old RPG.

Awexsome:
To not accept any blame would make you stupid. You can tell yourself all you want that it's not your fault, it's all to blame on the devs. I'll just pity you.

Actually, the shutting down of SWG has much more to do with SOE not wanting to continue to pay the license to use the Star Wars name than anything. It actually has very little, if anything, to do with the current sub base of the game.

Great research, and wonderful use of assumption, by the way.

The guild i was in when i used to play WoW originated from Galaxies and they would always talk about the downfall of Galaxies and why they all left it to join WoW. I actually played Galaxies on a private server about 2 years ago, most likely the one you referred to in your article, and i am sad to say that i was not impressed at all. The combat was clunky and slow and i didn't find much to do. The cities were larger than they needed to be and getting from place to place was a hassle. On top of that the server had a number of issues including a high lag and constant server restarts so i couldn't really enjoy playing it. Seeing SOE unplugging the servers to this should comes as no surprise to anyone especially with the upcoming release of the new Star Wars MMO. I just hope that Bioware and EA take into account the things that made Galaxies so great and builds off of it.

Great article BTW.

The_root_of_all_evil:

And what did TOR announce as their first big announcement? Sith versus Jedi.

Probably for the best. If they tried making them special or rare or extra-powerful, they'd just cave to fan/critical pressure eventually. You can make a Star Wars game where players can't be Jedi, but you'd probably miss the mass market and end up as a niche title, thereby making a large budget unjustified, in turn either lowering the quality of the game or creating an unsustainable title.

I guess it's a question of what's more palatable to the masses, a Star Wars game that tries to mimic a living world or an MMO with Star Wars classes and stories? Does the game or the lore/world reign supreme? I suppose we'll find out after TOR's release (I don't think they've compromised the lore terribly, but I know they've had to make concessions). My suspicion, based on WoW's success is that it's more about the gameplay and achieving the critical mass of players to reach that tipping point where people join to be with friends. Warcraft has/had a lore but it became a vehicle for new content instead of an attempt at crafting an overarching story.

It's a vicious cycle though; until someone creates a smash hit game that's more of a sandbox, no one will take a big budget risk on a sandbox, so smash hits will be difficult to come by, and on and on. I can see why it would be frustrating for sandbox fans.

"If we're going to assign blame for who killed Galaxies, however, the people who fled the NGE in a mass fit of pique"

Nope. I joined the game because city-building and player-roleplay politics were fun.

I was a Bothan actually doing what Bothans do: be a diplomat. I was mayor of one of the best cities on our server: a 150+ player dual-guild city bigger, and frankly more interesting, than most of the NPC cities. I went on battle runs as well, but that was secondary for me, especially when the mayors of the various cities began getting together and holding meetings to argue in-character about the ongoing Galactic Civil War.

Much of the very real alliances and subterfuge going on behind the scenes was because initially, player cities gave their residents significant advantages --- especially if they were well-designed and -maintained. Another was that small "fortress towns" were created to block access to questline areas, meaning that there actually HAD to be a REAL WAR.

Players needed to group together, form units, and storm fortifications. The play schedules of opposing city residents would be studied to determine when the fewest players would likely be on, and city residents would organize into shifts to counter such tactics. Strongpoints were created, weak points were identified.

You know. Like a REAL WAR.

Sony couldn't allow that, though, because, and I quote, "this prevents players from experiencing content". That was when Galaxies irretrievably became a Theme Park MMO, instead of an adventure related to the Galactic Civil War which spun past in the distance like the background on a Disneyland kiddie ride.

Still, I stuck with it even after the "Politician Master Class" was simultaneously made free and available to everyone, and also removed of any noticeable abilities. Cities were nerfed not long after, and had already been prohibited from being built anywhere they might impede the ability of players to galumph along to their quest areas.

The truly and utterly unforgivable sin?

MAKING STAR WARS SPACE COMBAT INTO ANOTHER GENERIC, BORING, GRIND. How do you fail at Star Wars so bad that you make flying a starfighter boring?!

Oh come on, it's not like this'll be the last time you ever play it. I'm sure that there are private servers galore...

I'll gladly accept any "blame" for killing SWG, although a massive fit of pique? That's really taking a cheap shot at players who enjoyed the game mechanics before and were unhappy with the change. I tried to like the changes, but they ruined the game for me. I don't think a "massive fit of pique" is a fitting phrase to describe people who left after the changes.I think it's just trying to sound fancy, but it really isn't accommodating the situation. I didn't leave due to a wounded pride or a perceived slight, I left because I wasn't happy with the changes they made.

So did my (along with everyone else's) leaving kill SWG? Yes it did. But why did we leave? Because the game turned cruddy, and I wasn't going to keep paying for something I wasn't having fun with.

I wish I could have played you SWG, You'll live on forever in my dreams

RIP SWG

That was a good article. I have never played SWG, but I could see that it really was a part of your life for a while. Well written!

For some reason, all I could think about while reading this article was Randy Marsh yelling, "WE DIDN'T LISTEN!"

Also, Galaxies did it right making Jedi status a special achievement. They chose the wrong mechanism for getting there, but marking it as a rare gift with a high penalty makes it all the more worthwhile. Having a hundred thousand force adepts wandering around The Old Republic is going to make it feel pretty stupid (and not much like the real Star Wars universe). It's too bad the little pussies from SWG couldn't recognize that before screaming to Sony and demanding a lightsaber of their own.

I'm sorry, I'll miss SW:G I had a lot of fun, back in it's hay day, but after the NGE destroyed the unique leveling and character building aspects that were IMO central to building the universe and the illusion of a living breathing world, I just lost interest... it was still pretty fun to explore the universe and space combat is some of the best in any MMO but the magic wasn't there... I remember spending a few in game weeks on Lok exploring every detail of the planet at the same time accepting random quests to help flesh out the world and socialize with the people in all of the towns there eventually finding one that I really like and joining the guild and than leaving a few days later after the guild leader got a little too friendly with me after he found out I was 12... he was pretty creepy... anyway I completely forgot where I was going with this...

but you will always be remembered Enerlerin Okath of Skyla, member of The Shadow Of The Alliance guild... Master Politician, Ace Pilot, Level 60 Bounty Hunter... previously Rifle/Medical specialized... ;_;

SWG was my first ever MMO; I played the beta and made a lot of good friends (some of which I hope to see again in SWTOR :D).

Personally I felt that SWG (Pre-NGE) was a good game but poorly implemented; the crafting system ment that unless your quality was uber your stock was useless and no one would buy it; doctor buffs were essential to do anything in the game and forced players to rely heavily on them. Skills and progression was broken so that you could pretty much grind away at skills afk (ie, dancing and 'tumble monkies'). The game had no instances so group content was difficult to run unless you were very lucky or willing to fight over the scraps some other group would leave behind.

The player structures and cities were cool but it was a 'carebear' mechanic which served no other purpose other than to give you a place to leave all your crap or hang out with your mates; yeah if your a social person then thats great but then the game was reduced to an over complicated chat channel.

The killing blow for me was the NGE Jedi - not that people who grinded them out during the 'hologrind' got left behind or anything like that, but the time frame that the game was set (between New Hope & Empire) was a time where there are very very few Jedi; the ones that are left are either in hiding or being hunted. The NGE then turned them into a common sight where you would see Jedi left and right swinging their lightsabers around like glowsticks, right in front of Empire guard faces who wouldn't flinch.

I think the game was never as good as it could have been because it tried to do too much.

TOR is looking like the game that SWG should have been, can't wait for it to be released!

Stall:
Yes, blame the customer. That's how you do it. Blame the people who had their favorite game... their favorite past time gutted and flayed before their eyes. This article is cauldrons of nothing along with this smug, obnoxious sense of "oh, everyone who quit was wrong! It's all THEIR fault!". I was expecting a heart-felt goodbye to one of the jewels of the golden age of MMOs, but no... all I got was insults and condescension as an original SWG player. This is a bait-and-switch in the worst possible way.

EDIT: Also, MMO players are nomads. Why fucking blame MMO players for their nature? This article is just bad. Nothing new is contributed, nothing thought provoking is discussed... it's just some internet nobody who thinks he's better than me insulting people who left SWG for good reasons.

Seems like you didn't read the same article that I did, mate.

Nice article. I'd only played Galaxies for an hour or so and didn't like the way it played, but I'd played other Sony MMOs and watched them be taken in horribly wrong directions too.

To me this represents one of the biggest faults of SOE - they really represent the faceless monolithic corporation to their playerbase. They're shutting the game down because the license is over, so they have no choice there. However, they could give a shout to Lucas and ask to release the source code to the community, just because it's a good gesture and shows that SOE understands that there IS a community. It's quite likely that Lucas would say no, but at least then SOE would have done something positive. And if they say yes, then SOE would have made a big contribution to the fan base.

Dastardly:

Dennis Scimeca:
A Farewell to Galaxies

Dennis Scimeca returns to Star Wars Galaxies one last time before the servers shut down, and finds himself wondering if it was ever really the game he thought it was.

Read Full Article

I also have to say that I'm in complete agreement on things like housing, crafting, entertaining, and the like -- these were the things that elevated this above an online adventure game and made it a virtual world. That's the sort of thing that used to be worth paying monthly "rent" on that virtual real estate.

And these were left almost completely untouched by the awful (and "iconic") NGE update, because they were seen as inconsequential. The most dynamic and enduring aspects of SWG were treated like the least important, and that neglect is the only thing that kept them around long enough for me to have re-subscribed more than once over the intervening years.

No one does these things anymore, either. And I have to ask, "WHY NOT?!" Adventuring has seen very little progress over the years. PvP in any game is only as good as its playerbase, and a lot of those hyper-competitive folks have pretty short attention spans (or they get bored fighting the same 30 people all the time). The token "housing" instances other games have are just storage space, because they serve no purpose in the world that brings other people to them. Crafting in other MMOs is just a simple one-step collection game (get widgets, make them into armor).

In a sense, the NGE isn't the biggest problem. The fact that the NGE killed SWG is the problem, because it shows how the MMO world gave up on making game worlds that were worth continuous payment schemes. Since then, folks pay monthly out of habit alone, never asking why they're not getting anything deeper than a single-player, ten-years-old RPG.

What I find completely ironic is that there ARE games doing this. They're called "social games" and are pure Skinner-box dreck for gameplay, but they have nailed the reason people play multiplayer games by building essential interdependencies between players that create the social connections everyone needs to feel committed.

Support for social engagement is completely necessary for any MMO to create engagement and commitment, yet somewhere along the line, for MMO companies,it became all about keeping the players grinding along the leveling path. I think this shows that the MMO companies don't understand the key reason why people play MMOs in the first place instead of playing single-player games, and consequently they've lost their market to everyone else.

w00tage:
- snip -

You know what? I've honestly never thought of social games in those terms, but you bring up a very interesting point about them that bears more consideration.

Now, for some reason those games never resonated with me, but I'm thinking that might simply be because of the way they tend to punish you for not playing often enough (Damn -- my crops withered!). That's one of the reasons I've quit subscription-based MMOs, as it's almost impossible for me to shake the feeling that if I'm not playing "often enough," I'm basically wasting money...

But the persistence, interaction, and variety these games offer really are a major selling point. Especially the way that interaction is functional in the games--your buddy is watering your crops, and you've got people seeing your creation as a side-effect of that.

Too many games feel like having a character you can 'customize' is enough. But that character ceases to exist when we log out, so it's not a sufficient anchor to keep us in that world. We also know, subconsciously, that instanced content doesn't exist in the world, either, so that housing model also fails to hold us. And our identities are portable, as are our social circles -- how many people use the same character name between games? And how many folks still talk on Teamspeak/etc. with folks who play other games? Tons.

Just like the real world, if there's one thing that never depreciates in value, it's land.

As an ex-MxO player, I find it hard not to blame SOE for many things. SOE had everything they needed to be The MMO powerhouse because they really did have almost everu defining property one could want in the MMO space.. but they squandered it all by essentially sticking their heads up the rear of the EQ series and not bothering to realize what they had going for them.

That said, I do see the point of the article as well. Going back to MxO, while much of the problems with the game were exacerbated by SOE, they really started with the faulty product SOE received from Monolith. And much of the latter issues that existed with MxO were, at best, never made any better by players who continually voiced little about how terrible the game was and how much they hated it (even if they still paid the sub fee and logged in). As a player and guild leader who welcomed newcomers to the game right up until the days before it died, I found myself spending possibly more time trying to explain that the whiners weren't totally right than I spent explaining what SOE had done wrong.

I never even played Galaxies...and am looking forward to SWTOR a lot. But reading this...I have to say I genuinely feel pangs of regret that I didn't get to be a part of it. Its potential genuinely sounds awesome and you did a damn good job of putting that feeling into it.

I had the opposite problem. I heard of Galaxies and thought of looking it up...but real life demanded I focus on finishing high school intact with all of my sanity. A shame I guess, but just reading this article made it feel as if I had actually been there. So damn fine job on this article to you, good sir! :)

StriderShinryu:
As an ex-MxO player, I find it hard not to blame SOE for many things. SOE had everything they needed to be The MMO powerhouse because they really did have almost everu defining property one could want in the MMO space.. but they squandered it all by essentially sticking their heads up the rear of the EQ series and not bothering to realize what they had going for them.

That said, I do see the point of the article as well. Going back to MxO, while much of the problems with the game were exacerbated by SOE, they really started with the faulty product SOE received from Monolith. And much of the latter issues that existed with MxO were, at best, never made any better by players who continually voiced little about how terrible the game was and how much they hated it (even if they still paid the sub fee and logged in). As a player and guild leader who welcomed newcomers to the game right up until the days before it died, I found myself spending possibly more time trying to explain that the whiners weren't totally right than I spent explaining what SOE had done wrong.

I preordered MxO for myself and a friend. My god was I disappointed. What a letdown. I didn't go back over time to see if it had changed / improved, because at the time, I just felt so ripped off and they embarrassed me with my friend to boot.

Hey, maybe it'll get a reboot too. I really like the need for intelligence and butt-kicking prowess in games, and that's why I had high hopes for MxO.

SWG was the last of the pre-instance shared-world MMORPGs, and although I only played in its early days, I really enjoyed it for that. The game world did not take shortcuts - player towns were a very tangible thing existing permanently and for all to see. Game-design wise, SOE made a lot of mistakes, and sure, the game did not measure up to DAoC in terms of balancing, but its community was a fun and vibrant place to be, in those early days, mind you.

Now, I am not one of those militant roleplayers you probably expect in some games, but I have to concede that the existence of a role-playing community, i.e. people who try to take the game seriously and immerse themselves in it to tell their own stories, is a very good indicator for the quality of a MMORPG community. SWG had that - up to a certain point somewhere around the availability of Jedis to everyone. It's a pity they are shutting it down, but, like UO, maybe there will be great private servers reviving the game once an Emulator is finished.

Jedi didn't kill SWG. Let me explain:
When the game came out noone knew how to become a jedi. 99% of the gamers didn't even know if it was possible. Then after a year there were rumors of the first jedi on some servers. Because of that some players started b*tching that they also wanted to be a jedi.

First hint: THIS is where it starts going wrong!!!

SOE being that retarded idiots that they are... Gave in to those little whiny b*tches and implemented the holocron system. Basicly, whenever someone creates a char. Five different professions are chosen ad random from the 32(I think? been a long time...) available. You didn't know this and you didn't know which. If you mastered these five professions you could make a second char on that server who would be a jedi. You could have up to 4 holocrons tell you which jobs you had to master. The last job you would have to guess for yourself.
THEY SHOULD NEVER HAVE IMPLEMENTED THE DAMN HOLOCRONS!!!

Basicly everyone was hunting for holocrons and mastering different professions to get a jedi. But still this could have worked if they left it at that. Because mastering jedi was still INSANELY difficult. If you died 5 times you became a bleu ghost. You could either stay that way or start from the beginning. Also: jedi initiate to somewhere between jedi padawan - jedi, was weak! You could get killed easy by another player. Once a jedi you had a good fighting chance. But a mob of bounty hunters or something like that would still kill you. And it would take you months of grinding to become a jedi. As long as you are a jedi and anyone sees you (including friends, I think only guild members were excluded...) using/holding a lightsaber or using your force powers... You eventually get put on the bounty hunter list. It doesn't take very much to get put on that list... And then actual players would hunt you down untill you are dead. You can kill 10 bounty hunters and the next 10 would be on their way.

So yea a jedi knight was insanely strong. He could walk into a starport and kill 40 guys on his own without breaking a sweat. But becoming a jedi knight was something reserved for the UBER no life freaks. And you think being lagg killed sucks for you? Try grinding for 4 months, 18 hours a day to become a friggin jedi knight. Having died allready 2 times... If you die 3 more times you can say bye bye to all that work and start over...

So basicly jedi weren't that big of a problem. I knew alot of people who had their jedi char but never used it because it was too hard. (This was once a the holocron system was implemented).

But since those whiny b*tches still weren't happy they threw them yet another bone. Revamped the becoming and being jedi system completely. In short: becoming jedi was easy and jedi got nerfed the shit out of. One tkm versus one jedi. The tkm would probably win...

And that is about the time you could really feel SOE stabbing that knife deep into the chest of SWG... Everyone could become a jedi just like that but it didn't mean anything because they were so very very weak...

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