My Past With Star Wars Galaxies
Links to the game are at the end of this article.
The day I went to the Best Buy in Mesa, Arizona to buy a new video game, little did I realize the impact it would have on my life and so many others. We examined the game the three of us; using the time tested “weight test” we hefted the box, and nearly dropped it. It weighed fully seven pounds, and included 5 disks, a book, and was made of metal.
This game, one of the first science fiction MMO’s to actually make it big, was awesome, truly awesome. The level of customization was like nothing we had ever seen before and your character could literally become anything in the Star Wars Universe.
What Made Galaxies a Great Game
What made Star Wars Galaxies a great game? The graphics? Good for their time, but nothing truly remarkable. The story? Good, but again, mainly written by people who wrote books, not video games, so it could have simply remained in book form.
What truly made Galaxies great was the customization. You could do what you wanted, when you wanted. Want to be a crafter? Grind up as a crafter. Want to be an explorer? Here’s a kit and a knife, go for it, Want to be a warrior, a bounty hunter, or anything else? You can be.
All of this was possible with the exact same character due to the completely unique method of level advancement they built into the game.
You started with a total skill point allotment, and were able to spend those skill points as you gained experience points in set professions, thus limiting you in the number of things you could do at once, but at the same time, allowing you to do everything if you wished to take the time and effort to do everything.
No game, however, has been universally loved. Check out John Hewitt’s Great MMO Failures: Star Wars Galaxies and Benjamin Sell’s 5 Properties that Should be Made into MMOs to get an idea of how opinions of the game have soured over time.
The PvP system was also unique among MMO’s, with a system where PvP could literally take place anywhere in the game, but only if you chose to do so. This gave the game the challenge of high PvP without making it terrible for those who did not wish to participate.
You chose a faction, either Imperial or Rebel (you could remain neutral, though few made that choice). Then you set your state, either Covert (allowing you to remain inactive and safe from combat) or Overt (where anyone who was Overt from the opposing faction could attack you). The true draw to this Overt/Covert system was faction points, which could be used to increase your rank and buy equipment, schematics, or followers.
The economy was unique among MMO’s. 100% player driven, with a “degradation with use” system built in, almost everything you purchased in game was made by a character. Anything that fell off a mob was barely worth using, while armor, weapons, or even medical supplies made by a character could have astounding or even unreal effects on your characters.
I myself became a wholesaler, mass producing goods and selling them to store owners, who then broke them down and sold them for a marked up price to the general public, the only complaint I ever heard on SWG was “This game is too much like real life”, which could honestly be said to be the whole point of an MMO.
The Decline and fall of a Great Game
Then came the days of change. At first Sony tried to equalize perceived wrongs, balancing imbalances between the character classes in order to improve PvP. This spread and spread through the game like a disease, attacking at random. You never knew from one day to the next, from one patch to the next, who would be nerfed.
The Release of World of Warcraft
When WoW came out, a groan of agony could be heard from Sony, fully half the people of SWG left to join this new game. Many cities became like ghost towns, including tumbleweeds on planets like Tatooine.
Oddly though, the game was actually somewhat improved by this mass exodus. Overcrowding and inflation had made the game nearly unplayable for newbies, and this new “lack of players” caused a shift downward in costs as people like myself and others got into a minor bidding war in order to gain new customers.
But Sony didn’t notice this new life springing up in the game, all they noticed was a substantial drop in revenue as people shifted to the new game… so they hatched a plan, the “Combat Upgrade”.
The End of SWG
The “Combat Upgrade” was the name they gave for a patch that changed the base design of the game. Suddenly characters were on fixed paths of advancement, crafting became an adjunct to your class rather than a class all its own, and horror of horrors… a player could start as a Jedi, rather than earning this privilege through hard work and effort.
They had turned SWG into a poor copy of WoW, and this was the last straw. Most of the remaining people left SWG and went on to other games… Shortly thereafter SWG came off the shelves and vanished from sight, though not from the memories of those who’d spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours playing it.
It was the end…
The Rebirth of a Legend
Or was it?
A group of dedicated Star Wars Galaxies fans who had knowledge of game design came together and said “what if we remade the game? Pre-CU?” They went to Sony, got legal status as a creator of a game separate and apart from Star Wars Galaxies, and began the long, arduous process of writing the game into existence from scratch.
Recently they opened the game, still under construction but recognizable, as a free game on the net, available for all the players who remember what the game was and others who have only heard stories from friends, relatives, or teachers. Now they need your help, your in-game support, to find what bugs remain.
Now you can join SWGEMU and learn why this game is powerful enough that at its death people rose up and rebuilt what had been lost.
The “Launchpad Enhanced” link directly below leads to a downloadable tool that will allow you to convert a Star wars Galaxies game into a Star wars Galaxies Emulation Game.
The Star Wars Galaxies Forum link below, will link you to the forum where you can create your free account for Star Wars Galaxies Emulation, Enjoy!
This post is part of the series: Star Wars Galaxies
Other articles about Star Wars Galaxies.