SWG History: Jump to Lightspeed (publish 11)
Publish 11, the first expansion to Star Wars Galaxies, brought the launch game to a ‘feature-complete’ state. The addition of the space game, along with Mounts, Vehicles, and Player Cities in publishes 4 and 5, made Star Wars Galaxies the title LucasArts and Sony Online Entertainment had hyped up prior to the game’s initial launch. The space game was extremely well received, effectively incorporating an X-Wing/TIE Fighter style game into an MMO for the first time in the genre’s history.
The simple addition of transportation to the game can’t be understated either. At launch, the only methods for moving around were either walking (it could take the better part of an hour to cross a planet) or the ubiquitous shuttle stops. With a five-minute timer between each shuttle pickup, travel was slow and irregular. You had to really want to get where you were going, and you were likely to spend time talking to people on the way. The speed of mounts and vehicles (and later the fast travel of an interplanetary ship jaunt) made the Star Wars galaxy a much smaller place.
Cities were (and still are) a fan-favorite element of the game. From the earliest days Architects had been creating homes for use with the game’s unique housing system. Buildings are place-able almost anywhere on a planet outside of NPC cities, and within those houses player-made furniture is endlessly tweakable and arrangeable. The addition of the city concept allowed clusters of player homes to organize into municipalities. The larger the city, the more perks it received. Mayors were elected, a sense of community and organization developed. It was a really unique moment in MMO gaming history.