Tag petter vs the nge reputation

One month of Star Wars Galaxies – the summary

Big, hungry, not very cuddly.

Big, hungry, not very cuddly. Soon to cut into pieces with my lightsaber.

One month. Wow, that was fast. Time is speeding up, man. Nothing beats keeping track of time like checking your MMO subs and finding out that the next billing cycle starts today. Calendars are so outdated and clearly not Web 2.0. In other words, my month of Star Wars Galaxies ends today – it’s actually been that long since I started.

But this post is not about me getting older by the minute. I haven’t had time to blog as much as I would have liked over the course of the month, but that’s how it goes sometimes. But I think that a summary of what the time in SWG has been like is in order. After all, I feel that I can now, at least partially, answer the question I asked a month agois Star Wars Galaxies really such a bad game as its reputation would have us believe?

I’ll break it up in two parts, the pros and the cons of the game, starting with the cons. I’ll also add a TL;DR at the end, in case you’re lazy or feel like flaming me no matter what I write. I aim to please.

Disclaimer: Do keep in mind that I only have a Jedi at level 39 and a trader at level cap (after a grueling grind). I have not experienced the game fully, including things like heroics and PvP.

Hit the jump to find out the good stuff! Read more

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The first steps on the path to the Dark Side

The Jawa trading post, filled with junk.

The Jawa trading post, filled with junk.

My first week in Star Wars: Galaxies is coming to an end. I ditched my bounty hunter after, again, realising that I am much more of a melee character kind of guy than a ranged one – I guess all those years playing as a rogue really got to me, after all. I tried the smuggler class during my first trial period and didn’t feel like going back to that, so I ended up picking a Jedi.

I know, I know. It’s bound to be the most popular class, and it’s not a very creative pick. Yet, I’m glad that I did – melee combat in SWG feels a lot better than ranged. I don’t know why, but it always seems like developers have a problem when it comes to ranged combat in MMOs. Tabula Rasa did pretty well, but in both SWG and Fallen Earth ranged feels clumsy. Most of the time it looks incredibly awkward, just two (or more) avatars standing around, shooting at each other, hoping to score the killing shot.

And as iconic as the laser sounds from Star Wars are, they still get old really fast. Replacing my blaster rifle with a two-handed lance was probably the best choice I could have made.

A raised village, destroyed by the Dark Side of the Force. Imperial March, please. Thank you.

A burned-out village, destroyed by the Dark Side of the Force. Imperial March, please. Thank you.

This means I’ve gone through the tutorial part of SWG three times now – as a smuggler, a bounty hunter and a Jedi. All classes and races start in the same area and do their first couple of missions on the Tansarii space station. Usually that kind of design bugs me, but Tansarii is an exception. The missions and storyline there are different depending on what class you choose – the smuggler gets quests from Han Solo, the bounty hunter from Bobba Fett and there’s some random Jedi master (in full Jedi robes, someone note the proper Empire authorities, please) to give out Force-related quests to the fledgling Padawan.

Compared to, for example, Aion (and Warhammer Online these days) where all classes do the same quests in the same starting area, Tansarii is a lot closer to Tortage in Age of Conan than anything else. The main difference is that the part on the space station is short. I dread going back to Age of Conan (which I will, at some point), thanks to having to slug my way through the first 20 gorram levels again. In SWG, you can be on solid, planetary ground in just a few levels, while still having enough new content during the tutorial to keep up your interest for every class you try out.

It’s a completely different deal when you end up on Tatooine. The Legacy quest line, which starts on Tansarii and follows you for the next 40 levels or so (it’s long, trust me), can luckily be skipped though. There should be enough missions from various NPCs and mission terminals to keep you busy – I’ve gone through the Legacy past the initial White Thantra-infiltration on all my three characters (the Jedi is the only one I kept playing beyond that), and I don’t plan to ever do it again. Ever. It’s well-written and pretty exciting, so if it’s your first time in SWG, I do recommend following it.

Also, you get to work for the great Jabba. You get Jabba-rep. Screw you, Argent Dawn, Jabba is the guy you want reputation with.

No! Dont dance there!

No! Don't dance there!

At the end of my first week in SWG, I’m at level 22. 4 more levels until I get my lightsaber, after which I plan to experiment with one of the non-combat classes. Am I having fun? Oh yes. Do I regret starting out on the project? Absolutely not. I’ll get back to impressions of actual game mechanics and my first steps into the sandbox-part of the game over the next couple of days. If you feel like contacting me in-game, look up Ri’Kali on FarStar-Europe – the bounty hunter is going the way of the deletion button any minute now.

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Mos Eisley, first impressions

Central Mos Eisley.

Central Mos Eisley.

It sure is a wretched hive of scum and villainy, might even be the best place in the galaxy if you’re into that kind of stuff. Mos Eisley is hardly pretty, a bunch of yellow houses crammed together around a crashed spaceship, but I doubt anyone goes there for the magnificent view. Come to think of it, I doubt anyone goes anywhere on Tatooine for the sightseeing.

Let’s not pretend that Star Wars: Galaxies is an especially pretty game. It’s not. It’s old, after all – 6 years is a long time. Tatooine is just as depressing as a desert planet is supposed to be – the only things you’ll see if you travel by land between Mos Eisley and Anchorhead are some banthas and a couple of player built houses, sharing the bleak and sandy landscape. The only other features are hills and ravines, none of them especially detailed. No “gasp, look at that thing!”-moments to be found.

What the game does have, though, is ambiance. Compared to a lot of modern MMOs, Tatooine feels like an actual planet. Not only because of the large, expansive areas filled with absolutely bloody nothing, but because the mood and atmosphere conveys a strange feeling of realism. The houses outside of town have been placed there by players, not everywhere you look or go is designed to fit a quest or a lore purpose. You can see and hear spaceships passing above your head, you have to buy a ticket for the shuttle between the various ports. It’s all in the details, without designing the environment so hard that it becomes stale.

It’s a desert planet, it’s supposed to be stale.

Mos Eisley, seen from a nearby hill.

Mos Eisley, seen from a nearby hill.

I gasp when I look up and see two Star Destroyers hovering somewhere high above me, probably right outside the atmosphere. I feel dwarfed. When a sand storm hits Mos Eisley I first contemplate if it’s my speakers that have gone haywire or if it’s the wind. It’s not until I get inside that I realise that it’s the weather, it feels like I’m taking cover to get away from a potential lethal weather hazard that would probably stuff up my speeder’s engine and wreak havoc on the moving parts of my blaster rifle if I had remained outdoors.

Mos Eisley, this wretched hive of scum and villainy. My bounty hunter fits right in. Nobody seems to like me, but they have no choice but to hire my services anyway. I don’t care, I’m just looking forward to getting off this piece of sandy rock.

Ambiance. That’s the key. No matter if I will write off Star Wars: Galaxies as outdated garbage or embrace it like a marvelous MMO when I reach the end of my 30 day subscription, I will at least give it that.

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Virtual worlds, massive multiplayer games and assorted ramblings

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