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Star Wars Galaxies is Closing Down

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It's sad to see Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) shutting down. Besides being Star Wars, there was a lot of interesting depth to the game. Here are some features I found interesting or unique about that game.

  • Resource Gathering

    A specific resource would only exist for about a week in game before it was gone forever. There was a whole tree to the resources. For instance Metal -> Ferrous Metal -> Steel -> Specific Type of Steel -> Specific Spawn. Each specific spawn would have random stats within a range for that material. You might find a specific resource that was great for melee weapons and armor, but bad for range weapons. In some cases, a type of resource wouldn't spawn for long periods of time. There were certain resources on Bria (the server I played on) that only spawned with decent stats very early in the game. This was well before people were prepared to mass harvest them. This put a premium on certain items until another spawn occurred. I remember a lucky grab on an amazing resource early in the game. I hand mined a few thousand of an aluminum with great stats that I never used. It turned out later that it was needed for lightsabers. The price of this resource skyrocketed once players started to unlock Jedi. It made resource gathering something more interesting than click the button repeatedly and added greatly to the crafting system.

  • Crafting

    Crafting felt like an actual craft rather than simple assembly. You had to choose the right resources with the right attributes to accomplish what you wanted. Different resources might be better for weapon speed or damage, but probably not both. You had to understand the numbers to get the most out of your creation. You also got experiment points you could use to improve specific facets of you crafted item. Knowing what you were doing made a big difference in the crafting in this game. Knowing what resource to gather or buy was also critical. If your competitor had better materials than you, it was hard to compete.

  • Automated Crafting and Resource Gathering

    You could plant resource harvesting buildings. Once you found a resource, you could drop your mining equipment on it, give it money and power and let it do the work. You didn't have to stay logged in or keep clicking a button. Factories were similar for crafting. You could make a schematic instead of an item and feed it into a factory with the resources to pump out items. This was removed macroing these tasks, and made both much less boring while fitting neatly within the game.

  • Economy

    Almost everything was player crafted. Shooting a gun? It was player crafted. Crafting something? Your tools were made by a player. Piloting a speeder? Someone crafted that too. Your house, store, and guildhall were also crafted by a player. You could loot weapons and armor, but it was very rarely better than a player crafted weapon. Some loot drops were optional components that could be used during the crafting process. This still required crafters to build items with them though. Each player only had one character per account per server. This limited crafting alts. An system where everything was player made was a nice change from games where all the equipment was from random loot drops.

  • Merchant Skills and Advertising

    You could have your own store front with vendors. The higher your Merchant skill the more varied and numerous your vendors could be. With the right skills you could put you store on the planetary map so other players could find it easily.

  • Battlefields

    SWG had battlefields before WoW. Unfortunately, they never quite worked right. Some dev time should have been put into these. The idea was you could battle Empire vs Rebels.

  • Galactic Civil War

    You could fight for control of a planet. The side with the most bases on the planet owns the planet. Players placed the bases which were expensive. Bases were only vulnerable to attack for two hours a day. I wish I had spent more time involved in this than trying to unlock a Jedi I rarely had a chance to play. Destroying a base was a matter of attacking it at the right time and breaking through multiple layers of defense. It required skills from multiple class trees and a lot of firepower. Controlling a planet gave certain benefits to everyone on that side.

  • Jedi

    Getting a Jedi character was never as interesting as advertised. Originally it was about mastering classes (but we didn't know that). I had to Master 31 of the 32 classes to unlock my Jedi character. Later you could complete a bunch of really hard missions to unlock your Jedi. The good news though is that there were relatively few Jedi so being a Jedi was cool. Jedi were also more powerful, but received skill loss when they died.

  • Jedi Council

    There were two a small Jedi Councils, one for light and one for dark Jedi. On the light side you worked your ways through the ranks by being voted up. On the dark side you had to kill one of the higher ranking members in a duel. As you made each tier you became more powerful. If I remember correctly, the stated goal was that the Grandmaster on each side (just one guy at the top) would be an even match for 25 normal characters. Whether this was achieved balance-wise I have no idea. It's an interesting dynamic that could allow a handful of players on each server to have some extra power. Unfortunately, this was most likely gamed by the bigger guilds so that they held all the power.

  • Bounty Hunter System

    Jedi characters were hard to get, but more powerful. Jedi characters lost experience on death. Jedi characters gained visibility from using powers where players or NPCs could see them. Enough visibility would put you on the bounty board. Player bounty hunters could take missions to kill these Jedi for money. Bounty hunters also had equipment to help them track players. Whether this system was balanced or not, it's a cool dynamic and fits the story line well.

  • Skill System

    This was really a skill based similar to Ultima Online, which isn't surprising given Raph Koster's roles on the two projects. You had a certain number of points that could be used to purchase skill boxes. Each class was made out of a basic level, 4 chains, and a master box. Different expert classes had different requirements to get the basic box. Usually these were different lines from basic classes or entire basic classes. Basically what this meant is you can learn about two and a half classes. So you could mix and match the skills that you wanted to customize your character. This meant that you didn't know what skills a person had. Such a variety was possible, you couldn't make assumptions about a person's build.

  • Apprenticeship

    While you could pay a skill trainer to buy your skill boxes once you had enough skill points, you could also have a player with that skill train you in it. This allowed you to continue building experience and skill without returning to town if you had someone to train you. The other side of this was Apprenticeship experience could only be gained by training other players. To become a master in a class required Apprenticeship experience.

  • Use Based Crafting Skillpoints

    This system was short lived due to a design flaw. I still think it was a great idea though. Originally, crafters would get experience for people using their creations. Early on, I would craft, by hand, a few pistols and sell them. As I was out finding more resources and hunting, I would get crafting experience as people were running around shooting things with my pistols. This changed the focus from crafting tons of things mindlessly to crafting high quality equipment that people would want. The big flaw with this is that it only works early in the game. Once there were enough experienced crafters, new players didn't have a market for their lesser wares. This would cause a situation where newer players couldn't get crafting experience.

Unfortunately, development time was spent in recreating the game rather than finishing the existing systems. That's a different article though. I enjoyed the time I spent in SWG and mourn what was a great game that was so close to being exponentially better.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 July 2011 14:27  

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