November 9, 2005

Smedley spins the Star Wars Galaxies NGE

Next Gen has an article/interview up with SOE head honcho, John Smedley. (bad link, removed)
" 'We got a lot of feedback about what was wrong and what wasn't. We saw early on that people weren't satisfied with the combat, so we decided to try something pretty radical.' "
Hold on here... the MULTIPLE complaints from BETA TESTERS didn't give you a clue before you launched the game? Chalk one up for not caring about the feedback from beta testers. Another reason professional beta testers should be used to initially test an MMO. If you are paying them I would sure as hell hope you were listening to them.
"The original design of the game was very much influenced by the Richard Garriot (Ultima Online) and Brad McQuaid (early EverQuest) schools of MMOG design. That is to say that the very best experiences in the game would come from massive time investment, trial and error and endurance of hardship. The rewards that come from that are significant but highly exclusive."
I was around on day one and early on they were staying as far away from the EQ model as possible and stealing only the skill idea from UO. Massive time investment, trial and error and endurance of hardship... three keys to avoiding making EQ2 (oops).
"Along those lines, it was incredibly difficult to become a Jedi. In fact, the mechanism for which it is accomplished (which was secret for a long time) is that a character has to master five specific professions (out of more than 20), and those professions were selected for that character secretly by the game at the moment of creation. The player never knew which specific five would unlock the Jedi path. It was an incredible time sink, to say the least."
Bad decision to have Jedi in the game as playable in the first place. You don't decide to place the game in the "old" movie timeline and then destroy the immersion with a thousand Jedi running around. Jedi should of always been NPC only... or even better... special event characters. The new "force sensitive" class is going to be overplayed... welcome to Star Wars Jedi Online!
" 'It's mixed. It's very positive [feedback] from the people who are actually playing it. And we also have the expected push back from the people who haven't actually logged in to try it," says Smedley. "Once people get in there, it's overwhelmingly positive. It's the "the sky is falling" crowd on the forums that's still going to take some converting. I understand that. These are big changes.' "
Maybe... just maybe... people are sick of you redesigning the game they've invested so much time into. Not to say these changes aren't needed, but not understanding why that vocal minority is RIGHTFULLY pissed is a sure shot to alienate even more players.
"There's a quote about the original design of Galaxies that says it was too much like living the life of Uncle Owen (the moisture farmer) and not enough like the life of Luke or Han Solo. We want to deliver more of the heroic Star Wars experience."
Actually early on Star Wars Galaxies was all about being Stormtrooper #245 or a moisture farmer. Not everyone wanted to be a hero... they wanted to live among heros. Sadly most players want to "change the world" when they are playing an MMO. Unfortunately this is not possible and making classes that stand out in the movies detracts from the immersion factor. Not everyone in Star Wars is a bounty hunter or Jedi, but in Star Wars Galaxies NGE it will be quite the opposite.