Monday, November 1, 2010

The Tragedy That is Star Wars Galaxies

You know, there are a lot of people who like to talk about how NGE (New Game Enhancements) ruined Star Wars Galaxis. But SWG was never a successful game. It had a very niche market and when you consider how popular Star Wars is, that is not a sign of a successful game. So let's take a look at what was wrong with SWG past and present shall we?

When the game originally launched there were a lot of problems with it. Infact some people had so much trouble even getting it to install, that Comp USA had to put up signs in their store saying that they would come to your house and install the game for you free of charge. Aside from that there were multiple things that would kind of drive away a lot of potential fans, one of which being that you couldn't choose to be a Jedi (I know it makes no sense in the Galactic Civil War era to have a Jedi, more on that later). Yeah Han Solo and Boba Fett have their share of fans. But a large number of Star Wars fans are going to want a game where they can use a light saber. There were ways to become a Jedi later in the game but they were so covered in riddles most people didn't want to sit through the trouble it would take to get to what they assumed would be the fun part of the game.

Another thing that turned many people off from the game originally was that it didn't have a regular class system. Everything was tied up in skills based off of using certain weapons or doing certain things to improve your skills. I'm sure it left a lot of people scratching there head in confusion and choosing just to not bother with the game.

Needless to say the game wasn't performing up to what you would expect out of Star Wars and after World of Warcraft claimed it's seat on the top, it was only a matter of time before someone higher up in the workings decided something needed to change. I'm not entirely sure if it was Lucas himself or someone else. But somebody came to a conclusion and one that is entirely understandable for a business man to thinking. Why is a series as popular as Star Wars being beaten so heavily by a virtual no name? If you really think about it Warcraft has nowhere near the name recognition Star Wars does and even aside from that World of Warcraft had plenty of players that had never even played a previous Blizzard game so it wasn't just Blizzard's fanbase powering the game. If I was someone running Star Wars Galaxies, I probably would have been furious too.

However they made some bad mistakes here. They tried to change too much and it's not that what they were aiming for was bad. The main problem was they were trying to push an entirely new game into the shell of one that already exists and it just doesn't work. There are too many remnants of how the game was before that either are flat out broke now or simply serve no purpose. They also tried to change it from a turn based game to one with a more action feel but failed miserably because blaster fire was a mess. Not only did you need to actually hit your enemy with the blast, but there was a chance based off stats that you'd still miss when you did hit.

NGE brought in actual classes which cause all kinds of stupid problems. For starts now anyone could start as a Jedi so they were all over the place. Sadly it was also hard to always enjoy being a Jedi, especially if you chose to be a Dark Jedi because you had no decent looking robes to pick from. You had the standard Jedi robe and the outfit Anakin wore in Episode 3. Why wouldn't they have some Sith style outfits? You can be a Dark Jedi and even choose to work for the Empire, so why give us such poor outfit choices? And if you wanted to craft, that (along with dancers) actually counted as it's own class and if you chose to be one you could never get stronger, meaning you couldn't fight. Crafting was what you did.

Another problem that came with NGE was a major content gap. They had added in what was known as "The Epic Quest Chain" which basicly was one quest after another leading you along, leveling you at a fairly decent rate, but it just ended abruptly around level 50. That may not sound too bad but max level in the game is 90. If you wanted to level past that, you had a hard road of grinding grauls for exp or doing team quests. And team quests wasn't really an option, because the player base was so pissed about NGE that pretty much everyone just sat in the Tatooine cantina complaining about how much the game sucked instead of actually playing it.

As far as I could tell most the people still subscribed were only still playing it because it allowed them to live in the Star Wars world, they would move on to another MMO but they didn't want another MMO. They wanted Star Wars. And this was a major misstep by the devs. You can not sacrifice the player base you already have in favor of a new one that you can't guarantee you'll get.

The ideas for NGE were good but implemented poorly. They clearly needed to be made into a separate game instead of added to an already existing one. Had they done that and put it in the Clone Wars setting then having Jedi available at the start would have even made sense. But instead they just made a move that pissed off the users they had and failed to impress the new users they wanted. I have next to no reason this game won't die a swift death the minute Old Republic releases.

In short, this is probably the only MMO currently running that I consider worse then Final Fantasy XI.

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