Yesterday saw the final nail in the coffin of SOE’s much-maligned MMO behemoth that was Star Wars Galaxies. It’s fair to say that this game had a chequered history. From the promise of its launch and the sandbox nature through to the themepark style levelling game it eventually became. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game that has been so polarising and from someone that played it from Beta 3 right through to after the crippling infection of the NGE I’d like to think my veteran status has afforded me the kudos to be able to comment on it and be taken seriously.
Merekk and Isa
No other game, and I really mean no other game, has come close to the tools that SWG gave you to make the world your own. Initially there were no levels, you still had to kill things to gain experience but that experience allowed you to buy skills in one of the best skill systems I have had the pleasure of enjoying in an MMO. You could dramatically change your character at any time. I mastered a large number of them myself, I’ve been a Commando, Ranger, Scout, Marksmen, Weaponsmith, Pikeman, Rifleman, Carbineer, Smuggler, Teras Kasi Artist, Swordsmen as well as the Pilot professions that came in with Jump to Lightspeed.
More important than all of those aspects of the game though, was the community. While currently I am waist-deep in The Old Republic alongside some of those people who I left behind in SWG the community that was forged in those early days is still the finest I’ve been fortunate enough to role-play with. Miss Isa’belita Yveshi, as seen in the screenshot above, is still someone who I have contact with almost daily, even though we are separated by a rather large body of water. You can see us enjoying the setting of the Tatooine suns on the roof of the Guild Hall I used as a domicile.
Housing and city building in this game was amazing, the planets were large and afforded guilds sufficiently motivated enough with opportunity to carve out a slice of Star Wars for themselves.
The Last Ditch
The screenshot above shows the infamous Last Ditch, the cantina at the heart of the city of Malador, named for the guild I was in during my days playing. In the background you can just about make out the mansion of Lythas Vex in the back left, criminal mastermind and also a really nice bloke from the south coast. I have many fond memories of events that took place in that cantina and the people who frequented it. Our city was the hub of what we did, late nights were spent getting everyone together and playing out our own little version of the Star Wars saga.
Sadly, when WoW arrived the storm that it created panicked SOE, at least from my point of view. They rapidly (and unexpectedly) changed the game that we all loved into something that attempted to copy the WoW-effect and, rather unsurprisingly, it failed. SWG had a lot of potential, it was a really great game, sure there were bugs, flavour of the month classes dominated PvP and the game needed horrific power to even run, but we loved it all the same. When the game changed to a levelling system and the unique combat systems had been overwritten, we not only lost the diversity of the huge number of classes, we also lost the heart of what made SWG SWG.
I had planned on being online for the finale. However, I went into the game on Tuesday night, loading into Tatooine still gives me goose bumps as I hear the majestic score play out until you are loaded into the game itself. I went and checked out my home one last time, drove around a bit to see the sights but the magic has gone. The planets are a mess of random buildings, the people I had such great times with are absent, the game I loved is a lobotomised shadow of its former glory. While its demise can be viewed much as watching the slow decline of a beloved family member, the fact it has now been put out of its misery is fitting. While there will always be a special part of my life that I look back on with a great and heartfelt fondness, now the game is gone there is a closure there. People change and move on, SWG has finally been given the merciful deathblow some of us wish had come a lot earlier.
The only thing left for me to do is to say thank you SWG, thank you for the memories of amazing people, amazing experiences and being one of the few times when we can say; the Internet makes things better and can change lives for the good.
While you may be gone, you will not be forgotten!