A thoughtful and personal exploration of games

Posts tagged “Sony Online Entertainment

Discussion: My feelings on Star Wars Galaxies today

I’d like to share something that’s been bothering me lately: my drive to play Star Wars Galaxies is pretty much gone. I’m still paying to play it, but I just would rather play other things (new or old). I’m going to try to explain this as best as I can, so bear with me.

Let’s get something straight first: I WANT to play Star Wars Galaxies. The issue I’m having is that, well, I’ve already done everything I wanted to do in the game. I want to do more than there is. Star Trek Online is fascinating to me because they’re constantly releasing new content. Galaxies kind of stopped doing that. If you will, they decided to focus more on the in-game card game than the game itself. They haven’t developed a new planet since Trials of Obi-Wan, they haven’t released genuinely new content since Halloween of 2008 (I think) with the release of Death Troopers and the zombie problems on Dathomir.

I think what I really want is something that SOE is unlikely to give: new life to the game. Maybe it’s a change in pricing model (Free-to-Play/Premium/Subscriber/Lifetime seems to be the way things go these days with a couple of games). Maybe it’s the addition of locations that would give a huge amount of variety into the game like Nar Shadda or the ruins of Alderaan or maybe a genuine visit to locations like Hoth (instead of PvP instances)… or how about giving guilds capital ships that they can craft or adding more to spaceflight and space combat? No, the latest update to the game just adds another quest series to Dathomir with the Witches and a revisit to the Officer class that was sorely needed. Last time I played, they had added the Rare Loot system…

I’m frustrated because I want to play. I’m sad because there’s nothing left for me to do aside from these extremely difficult to solo (or even handle with group) quests. I’m genuinely disappointed and I wish I wasn’t.

It’s almost like there’s this approach to games from the stone age still out there… that developers want a “fire-and-forget” game that they can release onto the market and not have to bother patching or releasing updates in the age of high speed internet and discerning consumers. I suppose they ask “why keep investing in one project when we can make so many more that can get us more money?” I thought the point of an MMO was to keep investing to develop a loyal player base that continues to purchase all the expansions and add-ons that you create? There hasn’t been a TRUE expansion to Galaxies SINCE late 2005 and that was the New Game Enhancement and the Trials of Obi-wan release.

Star Trek Online’s developers at Cryptic get it. Every once in a while they release a weekly series of episodes that are fresh, new, and fun. This keeps me coming back, wanting to be prepared for the next series of episodes. I’m looking forward to the eventual release of the Romulans as a playable faction (fingers crossed!) and the ability to eventually craft my own Delta Flyer. I can’t wait to go toe-to-toe with whatever menace is lurking over the horizon, my friends and their ships ready to go. Galaxies has lost the spark it once had and I think an overhaul of approach is needed. I will admit that if they ever offer a veteran reward or an option to purchase a lifetime account, I’ll be the first to jump on it. Seriously though, I’ve been paying to play Galaxies for so long that I think I’ve EARNED a lifetime subscription. I can only hope that good things happen for Galaxies and I hope I’ll still be there to see them. In the mean time, I’ll be playing Champions Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons & Dragons Online, and Star Trek Online while I occasionally glance at the icon for Galaxies and feel that pang of sadness.

Until next time, here’s hoping everything gets better and better!

– Elorfin

P.S. “There can be no rainbow without a cloud and a storm.” – John Heyl Vincent


Star Wars Galaxies: You can go home again

So, I haven’t made it a secret that I pay to play Star Wars Galaxies. I’ve been doing so since its release back in 2003 and I’ve not had cause to regret it.

Galaxies is a very unique game that I keep going back to over and over again (hence why I haven’t stopped paying for it). The attributes that keep bringing me back are part of the reason I’m doing this little project here. I find it funny that a lot of people just hate the game because of all the changes that have been foisted upon it. A long time ago (in my house, not in a galaxy far, far away) I told my Mom (after I’d tried Everquest at a friend’s house) that the only online game I’d pay to play would be Star Wars. It IS the only game I pay to play (my DDO account isn’t technically paid by me, so it still holds true). Even through the adjustments the gameplay has received over its long run, the game still keeps my interest and whereas I appreciate all the perspectives of those who’ve complained about said changes, they weren’t enough to shake me from continuing to enjoy the game. Sorry guys, but in my book, you’re pansies for quitting. Deal with it. (Disclaimer: for thoseĀ  of you who just got bored with the game, that’s a perfectly valid reason for leaving and I appreciate the time you spent enjoying it. To everyone who’s left the game, I hope you remember it fondly because some of you are still talked about even today as legendary characters.)

In no other online game have I been able to have a house that’s part of a town where I can store my stuff that accumulates over the years. No, I’m not talking like Second Life or anything like that. I’m talking quest rewards and veteran rewards and crafted items. Every item in my house (the Mustafarian Bunker, actually) has a story behind it. What’s up with that suit of Katarn Armor? How about those animal heads mounted on the wall? Where’d you get this cool painting? Hell, even the house has a story (I got it as part of a preorder for Rage of the Wookiees).

Further, in no other game have I witnessed a mayoral race or even bonuses for having your house within a town’s boundaries (my home city provides a bonus to crafting while you’re in it).

Something else that keeps me coming back is the crafting system. It’s almost absurdly complex. First, you need to see what ingredients/materials you need to build what you’re building. Then, with “shopping list” in hand, you need to hunt down those ingredients either by surveying/sampling/harvesting or by purchasing from other players or (in some circumstances) building/buying components for the object you’re trying to build. While you do this, you need to ensure the quality of the ingredients as they relate to your finished product (resources all have statistics of their own with varying caps on those resources depending on what type of resource they are). Don’t forget to get some crafting buffs from an Entertainer and to eat/drink some food buffs! THEN you get to put the resources and components togetherĀ  in a very nice interface (either click and drag or double-click). Next there’s the experimentation/prototype/schematic stage… this is where you can tinker with the object in production to make it better, turn it into a production schematic for a factory, or just build the damn thing. Lastly, some objects can have custom paint jobs and name changes. After all that, you can sell your products to other players on the in game bazaar terminal or through your own vendor or use the items yourself.

I love this crafting system. I’ve been using it for about a year now (out of my nearly 7 years playing the game) and I LOVE building weapons for people (especially ranged weapons). I’ve been called the “best weaponsmith in the guild” before, which I’m sure isn’t really the case. I like to credit my work ethic and my turnaround time. I ONLY take custom weapon orders and I’ll only build level 90 weapons (with very very few exceptions). I ask a lot of questions to ensure that the weapon I’m building them will actually be used and appreciated and that the customer will be pleased with the product. Depending on how much work I need to do, it takes me anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour to start and finish building a weapon. Part of my process is going through my stockpiled resources (metals, gasses, crystals, organic materials, etc.) and determining which ones I’m going to use via a mathematical formula that looks difficult but is actually rather easy to use. Hell, I made a forum post somewhere explaining the process to my guild members! I may repost it here in the future if only for my own posterity.

I take crafting for my customers very seriously. I appreciate the money they give me (I have a chronic under-charging issue, so I’m working on remedying that) and I appreciate the desire to have something hand made. I actually found I have to limit the orders I take to just a few in a single day because of how stressful it can be (I put myself under a lot of pressure to finish as quickly and efficiently as possible). I write down my shopping list and keep track of the resources I pull out of storage or the ground in order to keep everything straight. Honestly, this keeps me more interested and excited than combat most of the time.

One more thing that keeps me coming back? Space flight. I’m an X-Wing fighter pilot and I LOVE to fly in Star Wars. Recently they adjusted the space slayer collection system so that instead of hunting through every sector to find the kills I need to get the collection complete, I can just run a mission and they’ll come to waypoints that I get in my datapad. Then all I do is go to those designated waypoints and BAM! time to fight! I’m proud of my X-Wing, even though I know it’s not the BEST ship out there. Hey, it’s my baby and I’ve spent a lot of credits and time working on her. Even got her a custom paint job of red and gold. Whenever SOE adds something to the Space portion of the game, is precipitates a return from whatever hiatus I’ve been in. The last couple of days have been a balancing act between DDO, Galaxies, and Lunar thanks to the latest update.

I may go away from Galaxies for a couple of months at a time, but then I get this urge to play again. I say hi to my old friends (who are some of the best damn people in the world) and we get cracking. I churn out a couple of weapons, I fly a few missions, hell, I even run a few quests with the guild… and then another game or something from life steals my attention away and I disappear for a few weeks. I’ll always come back to Galaxies… it’s my home and I’ll keep paying to play until they turn the lights out (like at the end of Babylon 5, where Zack Allen says “I figured I’d be here ’til they turn the lights out.”).

I’m looking forward to Star Wars: The Old Republic (a hell of a lot, I’m excited!), but Galaxies is always going to be special to me and will always be worth an evening of play. I want to thank the Remnants of Mandalore (formerly of Corbantis, now on Chilastra) for being an amazing guild and for always welcoming me with obvious joy every time I return from one of my random vacations from the game. I’ll always return home, don’t you worry.

Until next time, may the Force be with you!

– Elorfin