One of the most important games of my youth was Star Wars Galaxies (when I say youth, I mean late teens, but stay with me), an MMO set in that galaxy far, far away. Produced by LucasArts and helmed by Sony Online Entertainment, the game originally started as a huge, unwieldy MMO where players could choose to become one of thirty-three (!) professions, combining the features of lower-tier classes to reach hybrid professions like Bounty Hunter or Bio-Engineer.
Besides having a class progression system from hell that was completely skewed (if you didn’t play as a close-combat character you were doing it wrong), Galaxies was unique in that it allowed players to set up their own towns on one of the game’s many planets, establishing new cities away from ones that might be recognizable to Star Wars fans like Coronet or Mos Eisley. This was one of the cooler aspects of the game to me, one that allowed me and my friends and guild-mates to set up huge player-run cities complete with a guildhall and all other sorts of interesting buildings, like faction specific bunkers.
When it originally launched, Galaxies was notorious for being fairly buggy and even several years into the game’s lifespan, this continued to be the case. My friend (GamerSushi user The Nage) and I glitched our way through several of the game’s dungeons, running a two-man team on instances that were supposed to take upwards of ten people to complete. We completed the Corellian Corvette missions by activating specific consoles while we were dead, or running across electrified floors before the game realized what we were doing.
The Jump to Lightspeed expansion brought even more fun to the game, sending players into twitch-based combat more reminiscent of the X-Wing games of yore. While the player economy was pretty messed up already (basic items would run upwards of millions of dollars as the player base was responsible for crafting everything), Jump to Lightspeed introduced a mechanic where you could fill your cargo hold with starship parts from vanquished enemies. My friends and I found this one spot in space where pirates would warp in every few minutes and drop high-quality loot, so we would sit up there in our starship, the Aluminum Raven, and grab credits by the hundreds of thousands. We basically got so rich from doing this that we bought our own guildhall and filled it with expensive suits of armor and other pricey nick-knacks.
After World of Warcraft came out, though, Star Wars Galaxies went downhill: instead of continuing to carve its own path as it had been doing, the developers decided to try and emulate WoW, cutting the number of classes and changing the skill systems. Things still went OK; while the subscribers did grumble, we stuck with it, even through this turbulent time. Around the time of Revenge of the Sith and the Trials of Obi-Wan expansion, the game changed yet again, removing all traces of the old system to implement a dumbed-down, childish looking class system that promised to emulate famous characters from the movie (and in a horrible design choice, stuck a picture of the character associated with that class in the middle of your skill tree).
Players left en masse after this, as the Trials of Obi-Wan expansion promised new skills for the old classes and then hit with the changes after everyone had bought the expansion. Players demanded (and got) a refund, and the game has had a dwindling population ever since.
With The Old Republic on the horizon, LucasArts has seen fit to cancel their contract with SOE and Star Wars Galaxies will cease to exist by the end of this year. I know that most of you probably zoned out through my trip down memory lane, but this was the first MMO I played and a lot of the things SWG did right have not been replicated by any game since. Maybe there’s a good reason for that, but I’ll always miss our massive guildhall home, my bunker and the Aluminum Raven.
Did anyone else play Star Wars Galaxies? Do you have any memories you want to share?
Source – Star Wars Galaxies Forum