SWG History: The Post NGE era
Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided. To celebrate we offered up a history lesson that began with the transition from Beta testing and ended with the New Game Enhancements, Publish 25. Today we’ll step past that roadblock, the elephant in the room, to discuss what Star Wars Galaxies has become since the playing field was rearranged.
Though Star Wars Galaxies is a highly polarizing title, it remains a singular offering in the MMO genre. No other title quite encompasses the array of features and gameplay options that Galaxies does, a testament to the game’s DNA as an open-world experience. Come along as we explore some of the game’s biggest changes and most noteworthy modern features.
The Post-NGE World
When we left Galaxies yesterday it was hemorrhaging players, many of whom felt deeply unsettled by the changes wrought on the game’s design and purpose. It’s this blogger’s opinion that bugs and failed systems had a great deal to do with the subscription losses that followed … though obviously the simply enormous changes to the gameworld had a large impact on player morale. Regardless of the cause, the SWG player base was splintered and demoralized.
In particular, Creature Handlers and BioEngineers felt the sting of rejection. Their whole concept of gameplay had been removed from the game with the NGE, as the developers felt that pets and the new combat system were simply incompatible initially.
The first few months after the NGE were rough. Players fled, developers left the team, and the impression from an outsider’s perspective was that unbridled rage was the only emotional response left to veteran players. And yet, just four publishes later, we see the beginnings of something that actually harkens back to the earliest days of SWG. Starting with Publish 29, which was also called Chapter 1, the developers reinvested themselves in creating new lore content and quests for the game.
Chapter 1: The Corellian Captives, would be the first new world event/questline introduced to the game since the days immediately after launch. Shortly after launch the “Cries of Alderaan” event began, a quest line that had players foiling or aiding an Imperial plot based on a (now-extinct) Alderaanian plant. “Cries of Alderaan” was supposed to be the first of many such quest series. Monthly adventures would carry along players, allowing them to experience and participate in an ongoing story. The developers even made promises that player actions (taken in aggregate) would have an effect on the storyline as it moved forward. Unfortunately, the Cries of Alderaan event ended up being the only monthly event. When that series ended new monthly storylines were never reintroduced, as developers concentrated on fixing bugs and readying the game for the Jump to Lightspeed expansion.
With the Corellian Captives addition, the developers were announcing their intentions to reintroduce some old concepts to the game. They dug their heels in, set their sights on a goal, and pushed back against the tide that was threatening to sweep them away. From out of the darkest time in the game’s history came hope.