March 8, 2006

Why letting Star Wars Galaxies die is the best thing that could happen... for Star Wars fans

On the heels of some pretty bad press coverage (Washington Post, CBS, etc.) and the cold hard facts that focus groups just don't like the changes to Star Wars Galaxies I have something to say. Letting SWG die is the best thing that could happen if you are a Star Wars (and MMORPG) fan.

It is unlikely that SOE would let SWG die, but it is very possible that they will rollback the NGE. Rolling back the NGE would be a toss up to whether the game could survive. My guess would be that any major change would completely alienate any remaining fan base and possibly push Lucas Arts to pull the license.

I am not an expert on licensing, but I couldn't imagine Lucas Arts letting the Star Wars name be dragged through the mud by the national media much longer. Lucas Arts was a driving force behind the changes to make the game more "Star Warsy" and I doubt they are pleased with the results. So I will blame both SOE and Lucas Arts for the current state of the game. After all we know Lucas Arts had to sign off on moving the time line forward and allowing Jedi to appear all over the place.

So what does this all mean for the Star Wars fan that is still looking for the game where they can experience the Star Wars universe in all its glory? If SWG was to die it would be very possible that the license for a Star Wars themed MMORPG could be up for grabs. That is a tempting prospect for any MMORPG developer with the current state of the market.

World of Warcraft has proven there is a market for MMORPGs that extends beyond just Everquest's 500,000 subscribers. In fact it extends far beyond that. The market is global for MMORPGs that want to support a huge development cost. While Star Wars is a global name it is unknown what sort of following a Star Wars game would have in the heavy gaming countries of China or Korea. World of Warcraft is one of the only games to really succeed in both the East and West.

What I do know is that a new Star Wars MMORPG would generate a ton of buzz. First of all there is SWG that has a few years under its belt that has taught us a lot about what the gaming and Star Wars communities want out of a game. We know that space flight and combat, action inspired game play, and Star Warsy"ness" are all required. We know there isn't people lining up to be Moisture Farmers. We also know there is plenty of wannabe Jedi in the galaxy.

A new Star Wars MMORPG should have a pretty solid understanding of what to build. It would be an exciting development period as SWG critics, SWG fanbois, Star Wars fans & critics, and MMORPG fans all battle to get a game that will bring the excitement that the Star Wars films and MMORPGs have brought to millions of fans. Star Wars galaxies is better dead than alive.

Update: 29 Nov, 2009 - Edited post, corrected spelling, and applied labels.

22 comments:

SirChive said...

I've played most of the major MMORPGs. Some I like and some I don't like. But I always had a strange feeling about SWG. I "liked" it well enough but was always bored while playing.

They did a great job of building a complex alternate world. If your gaming aspiration is to be a shop keeper or a factory owner then the original SWG was perfect.

But the combat and the leveling always seemed off somehow. And they never got a handle on the whole Jedi business.

Now it's too late. They have been through too many revamps. The gaming community will give up on a game once it re-invents itself too many times.

Best bet would be to shut it down, rebuild it and maybe re-release it.

heartlessgamer said...

I agree that there was something there and I did enjoy the game for a little bit. What ruined it was that after a month of release half the planet of Tatooine was colonized by urban sprawl.

SWG had potential, but the systems (especially) combat just was never finished or polished.

Darniaq said...

As long as SOE can afford to do so, I envision SWG will live on, regardless of the negativity surrounding the title.

But this doesn't mean another SW MMOG can't come out. We have two Everquests, we had to Asherons Calls. SW is a very different license of course, but has been iterated in countless FPS titles, a good number of RTS, and a few RPGs already.

So I think there's room for both a SWG that'll probably decline to closure in the same slope visited by AC2, and a new SW title that is so different, no comparison would be possible.

Planetside needs a SW theme. I've been saying that since PS launched though :)

heartlessgamer said...

I actually have some dramatic thoughts for a Star Wars themed MMO and I doubt they would be shared by many :P I'll post them up maybe.

I think though as long as SWG lives there will not be another SW MMORPG. I also don't see SWG surviving with the way SOE is controling it. If they rollback... what gamer is going to have any faith in them? Maybe the deaf, blind, and dumb, but no one else.

Originally this post was a lot longer with a lot more angry bitching in it about how SOE doesn't know anything about Star Wars, but that was lost to cyber nothingness (aka a PC freeze at work) and I have no heart to retype it all. Some of that will rework its way constructively into "How I would build a Star Wars MMO".

Stormgaard said...

I put all blame for SWG's failure on one man - George Lucas.

I used to blame Raph Koster - because I used to believe that his "Open Model" of MMO design (player created content, cities etc.) was flawed. But I was wrong about that - Raph's ideas could work. Plenty of other Open Modeled MMO's prove that, and certainly Raph's no chump.

But SWG was placed in a fundamentally sterile. In any other MMO the developers can move the storyline along - not in SWG. I'd bet my ass it was because Lucas wouldn't allow it. In fact I'd go so far as to say that they went with Raph's Open Model because they knew from the start Lucas was going to sit on it.

Nothing works in an environment like that - neither Raph's Open Model MMO design ideas nor more traditional MMO Models like EQ & WoW. Developers have to be able to add content and move the Storyline along.

But the Devs for that game don't have control over the (important) content - Lucas does. And until Lucas gets off his arse to create more and/or gives other creative personalities the ability to do so in a virtual world any SW MMO is dead on arrival IMO.

Well not completely dead but you get what I mean - just that it could never live up to it's full potential.

Maybe if they went back in time (like in the KOTOR Days) or in the future (like the Jedi Academy) you could make a fresh start. But I'd be very skeptical of anything created in the "Classic" SW Universe

Stormgaard said...

I put all blame for SWG's failure on one man - George Lucas.

I used to blame Raph Koster - because I used to believe that his "Open Model" of MMO design (player created content, cities etc.) was flawed. But I was wrong about that - Raph's ideas could work. Plenty of other Open Modeled MMO's prove that, and certainly Raph's no chump.

But SWG was placed in a fundamentally sterile. In any other MMO the developers can move the storyline along - not in SWG. I'd bet my ass it was because Lucas wouldn't allow it. In fact I'd go so far as to say that they went with Raph's Open Model because they knew from the start Lucas was going to sit on it.

Nothing works in an environment like that - neither Raph's Open Model MMO design ideas nor more traditional MMO Models like EQ & WoW. Developers have to be able to add content and move the Storyline along.

But the Devs for that game don't have control over the (important) content - Lucas does. And until Lucas gets off his arse to create more and/or gives other creative personalities the ability to do so in a virtual world any SW MMO is dead on arrival IMO.

Well not completely dead but you get what I mean - just that it could never live up to it's full potential.

Maybe if they went back in time (like in the KOTOR Days) or in the future (like the Jedi Academy) you could make a fresh start. But I'd be very skeptical of anything created in the "Classic" SW Universe

Stormgaard said...

*AHEM!!*

...sterile environment.

/bows head in shame

Stormgaard said...

*AHEM!!*

...sterile environment.

/bows head in shame

heartlessgamer said...

It was SOE who decided what time frame to make the game in. They chose a very bad one.

The game should of been set in a timeframe after the original movies when the empire was in retreat and the rebellion was gaining steam. Both sides were relatively equal in fighting sizes then.

This is when the Jedi were coming out of hiding and new Jedi were growing up wild instead of being brought up in the academy. Perfect lore reason to let players try jedi... not super powerful jedi, but more balanced jedi.

SOE just didn't get it and were relying heavily on the stars of the movies to sell the game.

Stormgaard said...

The game should of been set in a timeframe after the original movies when the empire was in retreat and the rebellion was gaining steam. Both sides were relatively equal in fighting sizes then.

AH! Yes that would have kicked much ass.

...still think Lucas is a bit of a control-freak though.

Stormgaard said...

The game should of been set in a timeframe after the original movies when the empire was in retreat and the rebellion was gaining steam. Both sides were relatively equal in fighting sizes then.

AH! Yes that would have kicked much ass.

...still think Lucas is a bit of a control-freak though.

heartlessgamer said...

Well I doubt any objections would of been had because there is tons of Expanded Universe stuff out there already for that time period.

Stormgaard said...

Yep - your right. That whole Thrall series for example.

Say btw - what do you think would have been a good way to do Jedi if they'd set the game up in that time frame - from a game design standpoint? Make them Hero classes like they are rumored to eventually put into WoW?

Of course that's not strictly according to the SW World Lore I know - they start out as kids...

Stormgaard said...

Yep - your right. That whole Thrall series for example.

Say btw - what do you think would have been a good way to do Jedi if they'd set the game up in that time frame - from a game design standpoint? Make them Hero classes like they are rumored to eventually put into WoW?

Of course that's not strictly according to the SW World Lore I know - they start out as kids...

heartlessgamer said...

Well as I said I have some ideas I want to form into a post later.

What I'll say here is what needs to be carefully considered.

1. With the new NGE class system it is obvious a lot of players want to play Jedi. Any artificial limiting system is going to be tough.

2. Jedi in Star Wars are unmatched so balance is a very tough call. Hence my suggestion about the timeline move.

3. How do you make playing a Jedi cool? They kick ass and take names. That has to be translated into the game for Jedi.

4. If you decide not to include Jedi as a player class... they still have to be in the game somewhere!

I played a Star Wars MUD for a good bit where Force Sensitivity was measured in 5 levels and you had a random chance of having it at creation. You only found out after going to the temple on Yavin 4 and talking to a ghostly apparation. If you had force you were lucky. You could only have a single character on the server and rerolling for force characters got you banned.

What kept Jedi in check was Perma Death. If too many Jedi started popping up they got killed off... usually in space. Easier to kill a Jedi in a cargo ship or shuttle than hand to hand!

2.

Stormgaard said...

I just had a brainstorm!

As far as Jedi's go they could take a page out of WoW's playbook.

I play a Paladin in WoW, and one of the things I've noticed from a game design standpoint (class and lore aside) is that Pally's pretty much suck against anything but undead. Don't get me wrong, they are great grouping class - but they aren't very versatile - especially solo.

Once you hit your 50's for instance you spend all your time up in the PL's - which actually is kind of cool if you think about it. I thought it would be neat if they treated more classes this way - making them more effective against particular enemies and/or different zones in the game. I'm sure some classes besides Pally's ARE in the game - but none as specifically so as Pally's.

So they could do something similar with Jedi's. Make them more effective against certain types of enemies, or on certain types of quests,or in certain zones/areas of the game.

Jedi's have a Code they live by - they wouldn't be able to accept Smuggler type missions for example. Or in certain other conflicts or quests they would have a defensive role to play - just like Pally's in WoW. On others they could really let lose with the Jedi powers on others - like Pally's against the undead.

That way people wouldn't neccessarily rush to play Jedi's. Sure a lot of them WOULD - just like they do Pally's in WoW. But there would also be a huge incentive to see how the other half(s) live as well, and boost the usefulness of other classes.

Stormgaard said...

I just had a brainstorm!

As far as Jedi's go they could take a page out of WoW's playbook.

I play a Paladin in WoW, and one of the things I've noticed from a game design standpoint (class and lore aside) is that Pally's pretty much suck against anything but undead. Don't get me wrong, they are great grouping class - but they aren't very versatile - especially solo.

Once you hit your 50's for instance you spend all your time up in the PL's - which actually is kind of cool if you think about it. I thought it would be neat if they treated more classes this way - making them more effective against particular enemies and/or different zones in the game. I'm sure some classes besides Pally's ARE in the game - but none as specifically so as Pally's.

So they could do something similar with Jedi's. Make them more effective against certain types of enemies, or on certain types of quests,or in certain zones/areas of the game.

Jedi's have a Code they live by - they wouldn't be able to accept Smuggler type missions for example. Or in certain other conflicts or quests they would have a defensive role to play - just like Pally's in WoW. On others they could really let lose with the Jedi powers on others - like Pally's against the undead.

That way people wouldn't neccessarily rush to play Jedi's. Sure a lot of them WOULD - just like they do Pally's in WoW. But there would also be a huge incentive to see how the other half(s) live as well, and boost the usefulness of other classes.

heartlessgamer said...

Not sure if "part time" Jedi would work :P

I was very disapointed when WoW removed the unique race/class abilities like Paladin vs Undead, plains running for Tauren, and Undead CC immunity. I honestly think that would of made the game much better.

What they put in place... the dumbed down "balanced" racial abilities are a joke. And the Troll is the king of jokes... don't even get me started on Troll racials in WoW :P

I have two Jedi systems in mind and you got me if either of them would work. Stay tuned. Maybe I'll write it up tonight or tommorow.

The Force said...

basically

i love the NGE and SWG
its more innovative than most mmorpgs and the targeting system is basically the same as others despite what most say, the so called FPS system is the same as a point and click attack system, combined with auto attack its basically the same as WOW. The classes are much better and the game seems to run more fluidly. The less people bitch about it and how its so different to pre-NGE the more fun they'll have. Its Star Wars, its a mmorpg and its the best we'll get till the KOTOR mmorpg. They wouldnt bother doing more updates or a re-release because as i said KOTOR is on its way. Enjoy it whilst its still here because you'll miss it once its gone.

The Force said...

basically

i love the NGE and SWG
its more innovative than most mmorpgs and the targeting system is basically the same as others despite what most say, the so called FPS system is the same as a point and click attack system, combined with auto attack its basically the same as WOW. The classes are much better and the game seems to run more fluidly. The less people bitch about it and how its so different to pre-NGE the more fun they'll have. Its Star Wars, its a mmorpg and its the best we'll get till the KOTOR mmorpg. They wouldnt bother doing more updates or a re-release because as i said KOTOR is on its way. Enjoy it whilst its still here because you'll miss it once its gone.

Anonymous said...

John Smedley is a weasel pumping scrotum.

Anonymous said...

John Smedley is a weasel pumping scrotum.