Friday, February 25, 2011

Star Wars Galaxies: Best MMORPG Ever?



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A long time ago in a Galaxy far far away I got my first taste of what it was to play an MMORPG. I may be somewhat biased since this was my first real MMORPG that I really got into but considering I haven't been able to find a game I enjoy as much as I did SWG I think my opinions hold true. Keep in mind everything I have to say about how great this game was is all from the pre-cu era of SWG.

So what made Star Wars Galaxies such a great game? Simply put, the game had everything. Fully fleshed out features that even today's games still don't include, or if they do it's an extremely watered down version. Here is a quick list of the best aspects of the game.

.Player housing: No instanced neighborhood stuff here. Fully implemented drop your house wherever you want deal. Every item SWG had a 3D model, this made it so that anything you looted, crafted or bought could be placed inside your house for decoration. And there were no "hooks" or limits on where you could place things, move around wherever you want. How many times in other games have I looked at an old weapon or set of armor that my character had outgrown and lamented the fact that I should just delete them, it was either that have them keep taking up vital inventory space. I would much prefer to be able to place them in my house as a memory of the times I had using them.

.Crafting: Crafting in 99% of other MMOs is tacked on as an after thought and in most cases not of any real use. SWG crafting system was so in depth that your entire profession and game play could revolve around crafting alone. My main character on Chilastra was a Weaponsmith/Chef who never once killed anything in the game and yet occupied almost all of my time playing.
.Open worlds: I say worlds because instead of zones you had different planets to go to. There were no invisible walls or terrain you could not traverse, you could just pick a direction and go, exploring to you hearts content.





No Direction: When I made my first character and loaded into Mos Eisley, that was it. There was no tutorial or hand holding telling me exactly where to go and what to do. It was just you, standing in this brand new world and left on your own to make your way in it. It really made you feel like you were part of that world. I remember standing there, seeing all the different players walking around doing various tasks, I really felt like a stranger lost in a foreign city.

.Space: In addition to a fully formed ground game there was a fully functional space game as well. Get in your star ship and go explore, look for a fight or even spend time mining for crafting resources. You may be a non-combat crafter on the ground but in space you can be an ace pilot and enjoy all the combat you want.

.Player Cities: This was an awesome part of the game. Players could come together and place a city hall and start their own city. Maybe it's just for your guild or maybe it's for several guilds together. Either way it was great to have a place to call home, for guild members to come together and craft, socialize or defend their city from the enemy faction. I think this is something that has been really missed in all other games, it does a lot more to bring a guild together when it has a physical representation in the game world where players can come together rather than the main interaction being through a chat box.


.Skill System: This was more important than anything. No levels of any kind, you had 250 skill points and the same access to every skill in the game as everyone else. You were free to mix and match however you wanted. Want to be a Rifleman by day and a Chef by night? No problem.

.One character per server: I know a lot of people don't agree with me on this one but it really is better for a game like this. SWG was a 100% player driven economy, this leads to very tight knit communities and lots of player interaction. Crafting also utilized a lot of interdependency, you needed to seek out other crafters to supply you with items you couldn't make yourself. Your reputation meant something in the community. Having only One character slot per server made all this possible. Your character was who you were, you weren't just some random player anymore. What happens in today's games is people make a bunch of alts, you never know who anyone really is and when it comes to crafting you just log onto your alts to make the things you can't do on your main.

That's just a quick list off the top of my head. There were many other things that made this the perfect MMO. Yes the game also had it's share of things that were not perfect. There were always balance issues from defense stackers to having an alpha class unlockable (Jedi). Unfortunately rather than deal with balance and any other fixes SOE scrapped the whole thing and went chasing the WoW crowd.

The game was one of a kind and I fear we may never see another like it in the near future. If you think I'm wrong about how great it was ask yourself why it is still such a hot topic after 5 years, why any game forum can be searched to find people yearning for the good old days of SWG, or why groups have been trying to create an emulator just to be able to play again.

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