Tag star wars galaxies

Don’t cry for me, Dantooine

Laugh! Now!

Laugh! Now!

After browsing around on the official Star Wars Galaxies forums, I’ve realised what you need if you decide to try it out. No, it’s not only patience to deal with bugs or with the sometimes twitchy combat. It’s not putting up with the kinda dated graphics, or the questing/mission running to get to level cap.

What you need is a sense of humor, or at least the ability to not take yourself too seriously. Not being prone to go into fits of nerd rage probably helps too.

If you’d decide to pick up SWG, one of the first things you might see when you finally get off Tansarii Station is a wookie with small wings on his back. There’s one on my server standing at the starport in Mos Eisley, giving out Chronicle Holocrons (quests he made himself through the Chronicles system). He looks hilarious. I have no idea how he got the wings, I’ve seen them on other players as well, but there’s just something about a 2.5 meter tall wookie wearing them. It’s awesome.

3 3 3

<3 <3 <3

If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the adorable, flying, mini-Ewok pet. It’s disturbingly adorable. I want one, but I believe it’s some form of award from an in-game event I’ve missed. And even though the New Moon Festival, SWG’s version of Halloween, ran when I first started out, I’m afraid that I missed getting the Jabba backpack. Better luck next year?

If your right eyelid is twitching from Star Wars-fueled nerd rage from reading about a flying mini-Ewok, then SWG is probably not for you.

I guess it’s understandable, though. If you came to Star Wars Galaxies, hoping for a 100% perfect Star Wars-experience, then…well, you might be out of luck. Personally, I came to SWG looking for a fun game and a world second, with the Star Wars-universe being a nice backdrop. I don’t even mind all the Jedis running around (hey, I’m playing one), something I understand gets under the skin of a lot of people (let’s not get into how hard it is to market a Star Wars-game without playable Jedis, shall we?).

Relax, put your feet up, come watch the Twi’lek entertainers at the cantina, buy some blue milk or Correlian wine, dance with a Jedi and pet your mini-Ewok. If you can’t do that, due to SOE not strictly following the lore, you might want to stay away.

In the eternal words of Malaclype the Elder  – “the human race will begin solving its problems on the day that it ceases taking itself so seriously”. Don’t be so glum, chum!

How far are developers working on license-MMOs able to go? How much creative freedom should we allow them? What comes first? The license, the game, the marketing, the world? Either way, I want a mini-Klingon in Star Trek Online.

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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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Heading for a galaxy far, far away

As a follow up to my last post, where I asked if Star Wars: Galaxies is actually a bad game, I’ve decided to pick up a new project for DFTM – I’m going to put my mouth where my money is and play through the first free month of a Star Wars: Galaxies subscription. My trial has run out, I didn’t get very far, but using an old retail code I had I now have a full account, including all the expansion packs.

Anioo Gtak, armed and dangerous. Level 7 dangerous, at least.

Anioo G'tak, armed and dangerous. Level 7 dangerous, at least.

Since there’s no interesting MMO coming out until next year, I thought this was as good a time as any. I shall play my bounty hunter and see how far I can get, how interesting the sandbox and leveling/questing mechanics are, and if the game – 6 years after release – still has anything to offer me. And, perhaps, you.

The NGE-fiasco has given Star Wars: Galaxies a terrible reputation, just like Vanguard’s launch blues ruined a lot for that particular title. I really like Vanguard, I think more people should keep an open mind and try it out, and who knows, perhaps the same goes for SWG. Worth a shot.

I’ll start out with a typical fighter class, playing as a Zabrak bounty hunter. It feels like a safe bet, since I have no clue what I’m doing. My character is called Anioo G’tak and I’ll be setting up shop on the Europe-Farstar server. If you see me, or feel like helping me getting accustomed to my new life in a rather confusing MMO, feel free to send me a tell. If not, just send me a friendly message or wave to me on the streets of Mos Eisley!

I’ll keep blogging about other things as well, but I shall try to keep as much focus on this project as possible. Wish me luck, if it turns out that SWG is a big pile of Bantha dung I might need it.

(Just for the record – I’m also one of the cool kids. I’ve been playing Dragon Age: Origins like crazy and I’m totally and madly in love with Torchlight. I’ll leave the more interesting commenting on those titles to great minds like Dusty and Syp for the time being, though.)

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Honestly – about that Star Wars MMO…

My old smuggler with her speeder.

My old smuggler with her speeder.

No, not Star Wars: The Old Republic. Too many question marks up in the air about that game and I’m not ready to herald it as the second coming of MMOs or the “World of Warcraft-killer” that some people will happily call it long before we even have a closed beta to poke around in. I’m talking about that other Star Wars MMO, the one that people seem to love to hate.

Yes, Star Wars: Galaxies. I’m going there. I might live to regret it.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but this post was ultimately spawned by Dub’s comment on Werit’s post about Death Troopers (be sure to check out the trailer, it’s awesome). Dub states that he looks “forward to SWG finally dieing [sic] out once ToR releases”. I’ve heard it said before, the hate against SW:G never seems to die out – the pure hatred that some people feel towards SOE’s controversial NGE-initiative is as alive and kicking today as it was when it rolled out in 2005.

But let’s be honest here. Is Star Wars: Galaxies such a bad game? This month the NGE happened four years ago, the game has had all that time to improve, there’s been a ton of updates and despite the server-merger there will still be a ton of servers to play on. Obviously the game is still alive, be that from subscriptions or Station Access.

I’ve played the game twice, never going past trial – not so much because I didn’t like it as I had tons of other games to play. I never tried it before the NGE, so I don’t have that to base my experience on. To me, SW:G felt like a solid MMO with lots of mission and sandbox options, with advanced player owned housing and cities and with a really good Star Wars-feel to it.

Isn’t it time to forget and forgive, perhaps take a look at it with a fresh pair of eyes? My current trial is running out, but I’m considering turning it into a full account and give it a proper go. If I can find the time between EVE, Fallen Earth, Ryzom and Dragon Age…

(I realise that this post might get no comments at all, or spawn a whole lot of flames. Please, keep it civil and don’t drag up old grudges. Try to stay as nice as possible.)

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And then there was E3

I have this love/hate-relationship with E3. First of all, I’ve never been to the expo myself – as a European game journalist you’re at the mercy of whatever budget the publication you work for has. This year we decided to send three people, which included a camera man, and since I was number four on the list I got to stay home and try to cover it from here. Only because you’re not on location you don’t get to slack, so we’ve been working a lot to give our Swedish readers the best E3-coverage we could. And, I must say, we certainly delivered (link in Swedish, of course).

ffxiv

The really big MMO-announcements were lacking from E3 this year, but that’s probably because the major movers have their own events later this year. Who knows if SOE got something big to show at Fan Faire (hopefully Tipa’s “Free Realms-based” EQ3 or something completely different) and Blizzard probably saves the next expansion for World of Warcraft until Blizzcon. Instead, we did get Heroes of Telara, which looks pretty neat. And, of course, Final Fantasy XIV. OK, so that was a pretty major announcement. Shut it, E3 always makes my brain melt a bit. The whole concept of a new FF-MMO, playing on the PS3, sounds freaking awesome to me, so I guess I will have to get back to that in a later post.

Bioware did give us a incredible cinematic trailer for Star Wars: The Old Republic, and even though a cinematic trailer for any game is just that – cinematic – it’s still the best Star Wars-related film produced since, well, 1983. I am almost looking forward to the next trailer as much as the actual game. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure I’m looking forward to the game that much, at least not as a MMO. Currently it seems like they could just have done KOTOR3 instead of what they are doing now. If you want to tell a story that bad, go single player instead.

I also know that my RSS-reader is filled with MMO-related posts right now that I haven’t had time to read over the last couple of days (394 posts and counting). I guess I got myself to blame, since I have a tendency to add any MMO-blog I come across to it. So I’m going to get cracking on reading those between Aion beta game sessions. I’ll get back to Aion as well, the beta event they got going right now will only last through the weekend. But first impressions? I love, love the art. The world and the design is what currently make it compelling, since up until now it’s a pretty standard MMO. We’ll see how it develops, hopefully we’ll get to try some nice PvP in the near future.

One thing is for sure – it was really hard to jump from Aion to Vanguard. I’m still enjoying Vanguard, finished the Isle of Dawn-questline with a nice group yesterday, but when it comes to graphics and character design it is certainly lacking. It’s a problem most of SOE’s games suffer from, perhaps with the exception of Star Wars Galaxies where I think the characters do a pretty nice job. Vanguard still got that whole “enormous epic world”-thing going for it and I’ve decided to trek to Tanvu instead of just taking the riftway from Lotus Hold. If the world is there, and you want to experience it, teleporting just doesn’t cut it. I’ll see if I have time for it this week when the Aion server closes.

And I want to level my high elf in Sacred 2 on the 360, finish inFamous, try out Valkyria Chronicles, finish Assassin’s Creed (since AC2 looks great)…and get all the writing I have to do done. It’s official, my life completely revolves around games. This weekend I found a Sega Master System in my wardrobe I forgot I even had. I would sigh at myself if it wasn’t for the fact that I love it. With the personal problems I mentioned a few posts ago slowly getting better, let’s see what we can do with this gaming life of mine. Toodles for now, though!

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MMO-quote of the day #2: Angry nerd is angry

I’ve been reading up a bit on Star Wars Galaxies and that game’s trials and tribulations lately, in an attempt to find out if it’s actually worth checking out. This morning I was reading Zenke‘s old SWG history lessons on Massively, when I came across this comment.

Agreed FNORD this article just about made me puke. Seriously…the game is still has 250k players less then it did during pre-CU. It sucks. Only SOE could fail at making a Star Wars MMO etc, etc. Ive said it all before. My only beef with Massively is that you suck SOE’s collective dick. They’ve screwed over more ppl the Enron. (source)

Wow, nerd rage really knows no boundaries. Yup, SOE deciding to go for the New Game Experience might have been a bad call, or an attempt to milk more money from the game at the expense of the veteran players, but comparing it to the Enron scandal might be taking it a bit far, no?

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Virtual worlds, massive multiplayer games and assorted ramblings

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