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Future Plans for SWG? 99

Warcry has a short article with impressions from someone who was asked to participate in a Star Wars Galaxies focus group. The moderator evidently presented several options, and the group responded. From the article: "The final question/topic was whether we'd choose any one of the pamphlet outlines to add to the game, or if we'd prefer for them to work on bringing things back that were taken out. As soon as he was done talking, the group said 'Rollback' almost as one. The moderator seemed like he saw that coming, because he'd probably heard the term a dozen times already from the other groups."
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Future Plans for SWG?

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  • SWG is dead. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dc29A ( 636871 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:01PM (#14860180)
    Focus groups won't save it. During peak house there are some 10k players online (can't find link). During Everquest's peak, SOE announced live that there are currently 100k people online. Looking at EQs subscriber numbers at that time (around 500k), SWG should have about 50k total active accounts. That's down from about 250-300k. Ouch.

    The game is butchered, just let it die. The amount of bad mainstream press (Washington Post, CBS et al) it got, it pretty much guarantees that Joe Average probably has heard of it and staying away from SWG.

    EQ with very loyal fanbase wasn't able to recover from the clusterfuck of Gates of Discord (and it was far less in magnitude than NGE of SWG), SWG with revamp after revamp won't be able either. SOE already tried saving EQ by inviting uberguild leaders to a weekend in San Diego, baseball game and al, focus groups of course. Result: server merges, continuous population decline.
  • by cryptomancer ( 158526 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:01PM (#14860183)
    How many changes have gone into the game that need to be undone for it to go back to a state that a majority of people are happy with? A month? Three? Six? A year or more? And even then, would people who liked the game then want to return to it?

    I think I liked the game best sometime after Publish 10.. I liked the Combat Upgrade. Right about then was when my interest in the game peaked. And the very next patch I cancelled.

    Maybe an option not explored in the focus groups would be the "sunset" of SWG, and the development of its replacement.
  • by panic911 ( 224370 ) * on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:12PM (#14860303) Homepage
    I think Sony needs to kill off the SWG game. Maybe, if LucasArts gives the rights out, someone will build a good MMORPG out of the star wars universe. Using Star Wars as a MMORPG is a great idea, and Sony did an OK job of it. But "Sony Station" is a big piece of crap that's ran by immature moderators. I would like to play that game again, but won't as long as Sony has control of it.
  • City of Jedi (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Forrest Kyle ( 955623 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:30PM (#14860515) Homepage
    I've always thought the best strategy for building a Star Wars MMO would be to combine something like City of Heroes with World of Warcraft. Yes, I know this seems obvious. "Wow, combine two great game ideas! You're a genius!" But here's what I mean:

    Every player character is a jedi. You can totally customize your race, appearance, and style of force use. In fact, you don't even have to use the force if you don't want. But you start out with force potential. And the players can go around the Star Wars universe being good or bad guys, doing quests and unlocking new force powers and crafting interesting weapons.

    The reason I say this, is because it makes every player feel like an important part of the action. I can only reallly speak for myself, but I'm not going to pay money for a game just so I can experience the simulated thrill of eeking out a living as a dancer, or a baker or some crap. I want a gun, a lightsaber, and directions to the nearest enemy. I want to be a part of the Star Wars adventure and kick some ass. I don't need to meet Han Solo every ten minutes to remind me I'm in Star Wars, but neither do I want to spent 345 hours farming pubic hairs on some remote moon in the yadda yadda quadrant.

    I've never designed a game so my opinion amounts to approximately ass, but I just feel like Star Wars Galaxies was designed by people with no concept of human psychology or game design theory. [shrug]
  • by Volatile_Memory ( 140227 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:37PM (#14860596)

    I cancelled soon after the do-gooders with the glowing swords started showing up by the truckload.

    Sure, there are a plethora of other things to pick on, but the whole atmosphere of the game is ruined by the presence of lightsaber-wielding freaks every 10 feet. According to the films, there were two known Jedi in the entire galaxy at the time this game takes place. In-game, there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands.

    Change rules, change professions, change and publish whatever... unless the amount of Jedi are cut back by 99% the game will never have the proper feel.

  • The rollback (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:40PM (#14860633)
    They should roll back to before LucasArts licensed the game to such a shitty company.


  • Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Why's_This_Fish_So_B ( 904222 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @03:43PM (#14860668)
    Why do /. mods even bother to post anything SOE related? Regardless of content, all that happens is that the flamethrowers come out. Oh they ruined SWG! Oh SOE is collapsing! This from people who, presumably, don't *play* SOE games any more, so how do they know that SWG or EQ has a dwindling population? Oh, rumors on the net and speculation. That's productive.

    As I posted (pointlessly, to a thread from last Wednesday, where nobody will ever see it) this is the same forum where another game which makes you sit for half an hour or longer before you can start playing has people bending themselves into logical pretzels to defend this 'feature'. If SOE put a queue on any of its games it would have been flamed here and people would be screaming about class-action lawsuits because they were deprived of their game time.

    Now, nobody should imagine that SOE is a paragon of virtue in MMOGing, but it takes a terminal case of bias to flame a company for asking its customers what they want (and paying them ~$80/hour for the experience).

  • Re:SWG is dead. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sierpinski ( 266120 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:01PM (#14860893)
    When was the last time you saw a commercial for Planetside on television?

    About as often as I've seen commercials for World of Warcraft on television. Zero. Yet WoW has reached the 6 million subscriber mark.
    Word of mouth has to count for something, and apparently people just aren't telling their friends about Planetside.
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 2megs ( 8751 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:01PM (#14860900)
    Why do /. mods even bother to post anything SOE related? Regardless of content, all that happens is that the flamethrowers come out. Oh they ruined SWG! Oh SOE is collapsing!

    But it's entertaining to watch what's going on with SWG from a safe and comfortable distance.

    Why do you think people go to stock car races? Hint: it's not to see cars turn left.

    That's productive.

    Nope, that's slashdot.
  • Re:City of Jedi (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fred_sanford ( 678924 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:55PM (#14862054)
    You may not want to be a baker or a dancer but I was quite happy being a care-bear tailor. That WAS the beauty of it, you could fight if you wanted a fighter, you could craft if you wanted a crafter. Both roles played an important part in the universe. Jedi's were scarce. Crafting was complex with bio-e, tailor, weapon smith, armor smith, chef, all playing niche roles. The crap now makes me happy I got out while I was still having fun.

    btw, I really miss JTL. Any good online space sims out there?
  • Re:Pros/Cons? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @06:38PM (#14862407) Journal
    It was open. Perhaps I should first tell you about a game that isn't open. Everquest 2. In EQ2 you pick a race. Then you choose your alignment. Except that most races are limited to either being good or evil. (Note that you CHOOSE your alignment, not get to be evil based on your choices in the game). Then in game you select your base class. Fighter, priest, wizard, scout. THAT is your last real choice. Oh wait, but at level 10 you get to choose a specialisation. Well yeah. They slightly refine you base class. Some are different. For instance a brawler is a very different type of fighter then the others BUT the difference between the wizards ain't really all that big.

    Then at level 20 you are supposed to get you final class. Except it is prediced. The only difference that the titel is now based on your alignment. Monk (good) Brawler (bad) unarmed fighter.

    So how closed is this? Well, at no point do you choose say something like your stat points. Meaning every half-elf brawler level 18 is EXACTLY the same. Because of the way equipment works you will probably also be using pretty much the stuff.

    Now they added some minor choices that make you character slightly unique but in EQ2 you pretty much now exactly what a well played shaman is and isn't capable off. Player X will have the same spell list as player Y.

    SWG on the other hand left it totally open how you developed your skills. In fact with a new character most players would dabble in ALL the disciplines, being a medic, ranger and melee combat, a dancer and a crafter with a bit of scout for good measure.

    Depending on your style and if you weren't a template stacker you could have some unusual mixed. A medic with a sniper rifle , a doctor jedi. Whatever!

    To an extent, it allowed a great deal of freedom. Crafters with a sideline in rifles so they could safely clear their harvesters of nasty critters. Dancers with a sideline in cutting peoples heads off.

    In SWG you never knew exactly what the other guy was capable off.

    SWG is GTA

    EQ2 is Need for Speed.

    One is freedom, the other is on rails.

  • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @07:13PM (#14862657)
    SWG at this point can't really be saved.

    What amazes me is that lucas arts let sony do SWG the way they did. Now Sony, having EQ, you would think we'd have seen everquest in space, if that had been the case (something half way between EQ and EQ2 in terms of technology) it might have been quite successful, maybe not WoW successful, because that didn't have the Sony name attached (the Sony customer service reputation is of course a disaster, although the ticket system in SWG was a huge improvement). Unfortunately what they got was UO on the ground, with space to come later. Granted when the JTL expansion came it was pretty cool, but JTL didn't have any high end content, that is to say, once you got to ace pilot, there wasn't anything to do. Sure you could fly around and kill hordes of crappy npcs for the odd bit of loot. So that's the problem first off the game didn't build on past success (everquest, which at the time was the 400 kilo gorilla in the room), and when they did have content and do things right it fell short. Its like they never expected people to max out their characters at all, let alone in a week or two, which is all it really took. Crafting was neat, and were it easier/more sensible to find resources that could have tied in well with an otherwise EQ style game (the idea being that you get components as loot rather than actual loot).

    Now SWG really is beyond saving. Attracting new players to a MMO works one of two ways, either they look at it in the press and decide it looks cool and they'll buy it, or one of their friends who plays convinces them to try it. The negative press for SWG reflects what's happened to the game, its bad, and without players its even worse. The technology looks dated, now that's to be expected with MMO's, but compare to D&D online, WoW or EQ2, SWG looks bad, so its not going to attract new users with eye candy. And its been around long enough that people who do play, have already tried to get their friends in, and have long since given up. The base is what it is, and they aren't getting anyone new, unless they manage to trick them into thinking its empire at war.

    One of the fundamental flaws with SWG has always been understanding the fan base. The last 3 movies to an extent suffer from this as well. SWG fans want one thing: Consistency of the universe. Sure they expect that universe to be cool, that's a given and the universide is already cool, now in a game you can expect and allow certain compromises (TIE fighters with shields for players), because its a game everyone gets that, and players are supposed to be 'special' anyway, but balance is important. On the other hand the timeline for SWG never worked, the ground game really didn't make sense, I mean... its star wars and we're out here hunting creatures? Does that make sense? PvP was never implemented particularily well either. That and people want to play jedi, the timeline they picked doesn't allow for jedi, which meant they really had to hack a solution together after the fact, poorly done.

    A new SWG, set in one of two periods, either right after episode 3 or right after episode 6, learning a lot of the lessons of WoW, EQ2 etc... could probably have done well, if it was released a year ago. Get the actors to voice some of the dialogue for characters, and give the developers room to be creative with the universe, and take it somewhere interesting. As it was they were trying to fit any idea they had into the time period, which never worked right.

    Now though, I think its best to rollback to a UO in the star wars world. That is the fan base, those are the people who were playing and want to play, make it what they want. Don't try and revitalize it, EQ and UO are never going to attract 100 000 more people. The game is what it is, and has the fan base it has, cater to them or shut down. I suspect SWG is sufficiently unprofitable that its time shut down and move those developers to somewhere else, but if it is profitable cater to the people who want a rollback and don't try and get WoW players or D&D players etc...
  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @02:52AM (#14864836) Journal
    Frankly, probably the biggest and most unimaginative mistake of SWG was placing it in the timeline of the original EP4-6 trilogy where, yeah, there are virtually no Jedi left. Not only that limits the availability of _the_ most demanded class by the players, it also severely limits what you can do with the game universe and what story you can tell with it.

    You'll notice that the most successful games set in a given universe step outside the timeline that confines them. KOTOR is one example, but maybe World Of Warcraft is a better one: it _doesn't_ happen during the Warcraft 3 battles, but some time later, when they can write a new story and invent their own story NPCs as the need.

    Even in the movies business, you'll notice that (for whatever other faults they had), Lucas _didn't_ just pile more story into the same EP4-6 timeline, just for the sake of pimping Darth Vader in the same outfit some more. He took a step back in time where he could tell you a different bit of the story (and when, yes, 10,000 assclowns with lightsabers ran around). And (again, for whatever other fault the prequels may have had), chances are you were more interested in seeing a new story, and seeing for example WTF _were_ the Clown Wars... err... Clone Wars that Yoda mentioned, than if it were "Jolee Littlebottom the cantina dancer eventually gets to see Lord Vader during the same EP4-6 period."

    That's good story telling and/or game design versus just merchandising. Any idiot can take a DIKU MUD and place Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, etc, in it, just for the sake of whoring the franchise. But again, that's merchandising, nothing more. But taking a step outside or sideways and telling your own story is what makes a good game or movie.

    There are tens of thousands of years of Republic history to place your story in, most of which had plenty of Jedi. Or you could go into the future, after Luke rebuilt the Jedi academy and the Sith are again some secretive group lurking in the shadows. (It's not like people are gonna stop falling to the Dark Side any time soon.) Maybe a new war broke out, or maybe they're just plotting a new infiltration. Maybe a new wannabe Palpatine is looking for new Anakins to take over the world with. Maybe just a group of people are still nostalgic about the Empire and secretly plan to rebuild it. Or whatever.

    See? It wasn't even that hard, and it allows you all the freedom you want.

    And again, on the topic of 10,000 assclowns with lightsabers, that's what the vast majority of the galaxy's history was all about. They had a whole freaking council and academy on Coruscant. Being a Jedi wasn't about achievement, it wasn't about grinding through all the professions first (how many professions had Luke mastered anyway?), it was simply about being born that way. Even assuming that only one in a _billion_ was born sensitive enough to the Force, a planet like Earth would have some 6-7 of them. And we're talking about a whole galaxy to hand-pick them from.
  • by TTMuskrat ( 629320 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @07:13PM (#14870767)
    ..The problem with crafting is this: over-simplifying it won't make it more attractive to those who weren't in that category, since it just replaces one boring grind with another equally boring grind. If anyone can make 10,000 swords a day by just clicking a "make sword" button, limited only by the quantity of ore on hand and the recipes, then you just replaced the old grind with a grind for ore and recipes. Hope you like it more when you run around looking for a tin vein, or when you get some equivalent of WoW's "collect 1000 heavy lether for the Thorium Brotherhood" grind for recipes. In the end, it just makes people do another boring grind in the same time, so it still won't be exciting to more players.

    It can however piss off those who were into it in the first place, by breaking the economy. If the bottleneck is the ore, and making swords is easy, then ore prices go way up and sword prices go way down...

    I've seen this reasoning used on the EQ2 boards that the old grind of sub-combines has been replaced by the new grind of harvesting. The thing is...you needed harvested raws for the old sub-combines as well. Making WORTs? You better have stocked up on all those roots. Making weapons or armor? You better have stocked up on the raw metal. The harvesting grind was always there. The high harvested raw prices were always there. Rare harvested items were more rare when the game launched and had absurd prices.

    The only thing that has really changed is that the grind of sub-combines went away. I, for one, am glad of that. The sub-combine grind tended to grow tedious especially if you wanted to do alot of crafting. Stock up on all the raws and the fuels. Refine the materials. Take those refined materials and make several interim pieces. Now take those several interim pieces and make the final piece. Now, all I have to do is stock up on all the raws and the fuels and then make the final piece. I get alot more out of my time spent crafting.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.