Discussion – Star Wars Galaxies: The End of a Game
I’m sure some of you have heard by now that one of the big name MMOs is closing shop later this year. The news was broken just a few days ago in time for SWG’s 8th anniversary: SOE is shutting down Star Wars Galaxies on December 15th. I have… difficult to explain feelings on this, so allow me to attempt an explanation with significant backstory.
Back when Everquest was new, I turned to my Mom and told her, “The only game I’ll ever pay to play will be Star Wars.” Little did I realize that shortly there would be a Star Wars game coming down the line (also that I’d pay to play other games). When my 20th birthday rolled around in 2003, my Mom preordered a copy of Galaxies for me and I was ecstatic. I patiently waited until it came out (they bumped it a couple of times, but yeah, it came out eventually) in June of 2003. I was severely limited in playing it because I had a relatively crummy laptop and only had access to a 56k modem at the time, but I was thrilled to be a wanderer in Star Wars. I spent a lot of time in the wilderness on Rori by Restuss (back then an actual town instead of the ruins it is today). I spent a huge amount of time being just a tourist, enjoying the views of the falls of Theed on Naboo, the twin suns of Tatooine, and the seemingly endless plains of Corellia. I took off about six months until we got cable internet for smoother playing.
In October 2004 I got a copy of Jump to Lightspeed and my 6 month hiatus from the game was over. I made new characters and Elorfin Thendt was born into Star Wars Galaxies. I made him a rebel pilot and worked really hard to get myself an X-Wing. When I finally got one, I was thrilled. Then I proceeded to accidentally drop my pilot profession and I had to start all over again. It took me several more months to get back to where I was (yay life?) and then I had even better equipment to work with. Overall, pretty awesome. Plus, some of my friends were getting into it.
Fast forward a bit… Rage of the Wookiees and the Combat Upgrade came out in time for Revenge of the Sith to hit the theaters in May of 2005. Kashyyyk was added to the game and it was awesome. I managed to preorder it and it was good times and new content for all. Later that year, Trials of Obi-Wan came out in conjunction with the New Game Enhancement (which redid the profession system to an archetype system and gave us 80 combat levels to work with). It also introduced more high level content with Mustafar and I fortunately preordered it and landed a desert skiff that could sail over the lava flows on that hellish world.
I have memories of the pre-NGE world. They’re of struggling to get credits, kill monsters by myself, and so forth. The NGE made it so I could solo enough of the game content that I could have a good time on my own for a bit and become more familiar with the game. Further, I was able to ENJOY myself for the first time in a long time. Oh, and also, with all the adjustments, they got rid of the ability queue system so you didn’t wind up sitting around waiting for things to go off. They got rid of the Mind statistic on the HAM bar (Health Action Mind). The downside? Medical centers became entirely useless. I fondly remember spending hours sitting in a med center healing people’s wounds and socializing. It was fantastic, but short lived. Anyways…
The NGE made it so I could finally be competitive in the game. When it hit, I was working on the Force Sensitive skill boxes and so I felt entitled to converting my character to a Jedi. He was a Jedi for quite some time actually, but he kind of stagnated at level 64 while I played a Jedi on another server (Lowca server I believe). Once all my friends quit or left for whatever reasons, I went back to Elorfin on Corbantis. Within a few minutes of just poking around, I met a lovely character and she invited me into her guild. With a grin I agreed and she proceeded to tell me how to rapidly get to level 90. That was 2007 I believe.
To this day, I’m still a member of the guild (Remnants of Mandalore) even through the server transfer to Chilastra (if they still exist, but they did in October 2010). Unfortunately, I’ve been lacking a desire to play the game. I’ve got some personal reasons for that which I won’t go into here, but there are some game related issues I want to point out that have also made me reluctant to play. First, there hasn’t been a significant addition to the game since 2005 with Trials of Obi-Wan. That added a WHOLE PLANET and changed the game entirely. Even Jump to Lightspeed changed how we played the game… it added SPACE and CUSTOMIZABLE SHIPS! Now THAT was CONTENT! Since 2005 we’ve gotten a card game, some holiday mini-game festivals, some PvP stuff, some high-end PvE stuff, tweaks, updates, modifications to existing things… and that’s really it. No guild capital ships (unless you count the collection POBs). No new planets since 2005. No new abilities for space. No new single player ships for space (except high level ones and they tended to be either super fast or game breaking or both, depending on your perspective). So, I got to level 90 and had a jolly good time with my guild, but then newer games came out with new graphics and new mechanics. I started to play Galaxies less and less. I haven’t touched it since October 2010 and I feel bad. I feel it could’ve been so much more than it was. I had a history professor who once told us to look around our campus and note all the new construction and renovations and to remember that if there weren’t any new construction or some kind of renovation going on, that the school was dead. Galaxies felt dead to me after a while and I suppose I was reluctant to let it go… still am. Mind you, I don’t hate the game, I don’t dislike it or even think it sucks, I just wish there could’ve been… more.
Galaxies is no longer the only game I’d pay to play. Galaxies is no longer the only MMO I’d play. Pretty soon, Galaxies will be no more and maybe my guilt or sadness or disappointment regarding the game will be gone, but I doubt it. It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend that you know you’ll never see again. I think Galaxies gave me a thirst for online gaming, where I’m not entirely alone in my adventures and where I only have to speak up to find a friend. I find myself, today, as a better gamer because of my experiences with Galaxies.
A while ago… probably in October 2010, I had returned after a very long period of time of not playing. My guild mates were shocked to hear that I’d never actually cancelled my subscription, I just was busy doing other things and they were thrilled to see me on. I told them that I’d never really leave for good and that I’d probably be there when they turned the lights out someday. Well, I intend to be there on December 15th. I want to say farewell to a world of friends, adventure, possibilities and my character Elorfin Thendt. No, not a world… a galaxy.
Until next time, go and explore those new worlds and strange lands. Maybe you’ll find a galaxy waiting for you.
P.S. “I figured I’d be here ’til they turn the lights out.” – Zack Allan, Babylon 5: Sleeping in Light
P.P.S. “Every Story Has A Hero, Every Hero Has A Destiny, Every Saga Has An End.” – Tagline for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith