Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hot Topics: Server Transfers

With only two weeks to go, the Free Character Transfer Service is one of the hottest topics to be found. From questions to concerns to conspiracy theories, the "FCTS" is going to be the first major change in 2009 and could very well dictate the game through to 2010 and beyond.

Much like yesterday's Thought of the Day, there are calls for additional character slots: a third, fourth or even a pay-for-slot service similar to City of Heroes.

Without rehashing yesterday's "thought" entirely, I feel it's a poor idea - even worse then the second slot. Of course, it's too late to take that back. We have two and now we're stuck with it.

It's these "second generation" MMO mentalities that teach us that we should have multiple toons. These are the same mentalities that find the fastest, cheapest way to achieve any goal; the mentalities that want instant travel, no species bonuses, no penalties for death, and certainly no form of decay.

As much as SOE has conditioned the players to have a whine on deck, the players have conditioned SOE to know that if they make any significant change (even for the better) that pitchforks and torches are within arms length, and the cancellation button is even closer.

What a bunch of crock, especially considering that almost all other MMOs on the market feature even more restrictive systems. Rather then embrace the freedom that SWG offers, we handcuff ourselves to it so that neither we nor they may stray too far from the path that they settle upon with tiny tugs and outright shoves.

The Server Transfers will become an even hotter topic before it's all said and done. I feel for all involved. I feel it will get worse before it gets better.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

SWG Thought of the Day: Extra Character Slots

Star Wars Galaxies was far more engaging and complex when every player was afforded but one character slot per server. While other MMOs have typified the concept of having multiple toons, I submit that those other games are to be considered more simplistic and even childlike; appealing to a broader audience that is content with having things easier for the benefit of their own entertainment, rather then a thought-provoking system that entails planning, social interactions, dependencies and patience.

It is too late to return to such a system, and that is mostly because a large portion of the existing playerbase would be unable to adapt, nor should they be expected to.

Perhaps someday an MMO will emerge that shall buck the current trends for the genre and be met with enough success for others to consider that following the gold standard Blizzard example is not the only way to create a successful MMO.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Did You Notice: Squadrons Over Corellia

Yeah, I know... it's a dead horse that would be begging for mercy if it could speak. But did you notice that when the Squadrons Over Corellia was announced, the most significant information provided to us from SOE was information about the new loot cards?

There was no mention of any new rules that the game had received (Precise, comes to mind), nor any new characters that could not be inferred from the graphics. No mention of how the new ships could be used from within a card game session. Nothing of the sort unless you dug deeper into some developer and release notes.

Instead, we were hit over the head with the shiny new items, along with the disembodied voice that taunted and cackled at crafters who were left holding their Diner Booth schematic with pained expressions.

And as if that didn't leave a bad enough taste in our mouths, said taste was slapped out when the loading screen into SWG featured the TCG... instead of highlighting the festive and annual Life Day Event that is arguably the most popular of them all. (Also notice that the MotD had no mention of Life Day; one could literally miss the whole event if they were so pressed for time and weren't careful.)

If the TCG is so great (despite it being a copied version of the Legends of Norrah - You grab that profit margin at all costs, SOE) then why must it constantly be about the loot and not the game itself. Build it... and they will come. Trap then... and they will turn away.

Way to promote your card game, SOE.

So... did you notice?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Classic SWG: Building the Guild

Vincer, Cyra and Mileena rest in their shared home on Corellia. It was during this session that the first discussions were held about forming a guild. It would not be long before the idea was presented to Nikki (an entertainer with death-defying brawling skills) and Phantom (a commando and heavy weapons specialist). The small team agreed that forming a guild was a good idea to help secure their future and to make official the team that they had long been refining.

Once they saved enough money, an order was placed with a nearby architect by the name of Kaptori. Soon after, the guildhall was created along the rivers north of Coronet, and V-Squad was born. By Nikki's suggestion, five chairs, each with the name of the original five founding members, were placed in the center of the hall about a round table.

Though V-Squad would live for only two years, the guild hall still stands on Coronet, though it's location has changed a few times since.

(Date: mid-2003)

Friday, December 26, 2008

SWG Thought of the Day: The Civil War

Before the Galactic Civil War can be addressed by the SWG development team, it seems to me that we must first establish the sheer might and absolute power of the Galactic Empire. Otherwise, the war is nothing more then organized, pointless violence and random skirmishes scattered around the various game worlds. Then, and only then, will there be a reason for the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Civil War.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Did You Notice: Vendor Searches

Did you notice that when searching for an item in the vendor search, you do not have to type out the full name? In fact, you can even skip words (but not letters) to locate your item. Rather handy, I'd say. The vendors are past due for an update with additional filter interface elements, but this substring search is an excellent way to quickly find the specific item that is on your mind.

So... did you notice?

Monday, December 22, 2008

SWG Thought of the Day: Promises, Promises

In addition to the devs promise that there would be continued development for the space-related aspects of the game, I seem to remember a "promise" that additional colors would be added to the Structures Traders schematics. It seems to me that the Diner furniture offered a perfect opportunity to make good on that claim, especially given the rather simplistic nature of the finished products.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Classic SWG: Factional Pets

Classic SWG is a new feature that will showcase aspects of Star Wars Galaxies from years gone by.

We begin with a screenshot showing Rebel factional pets. Here, Vincer and members of his Squad attack their foes while exploring the planet Lok.

Factional pets were acquired from the various Recruiters around the galaxy. Lok was an extremely dangerous world at the time, and my guild would often make use of factional pets to fill out our ranks and provide additional firepower and tactics.

To deploy a factional pet, you would become visible to the opposing faction, placing yourself at risk. We were happy to find an Rebel Recruiter on Lok that we could safely acquire and deploy our factional pets.

I still have the waypoint to that Recruiter, but he has long since moved on. Until a few months ago, Oobik was still in my datapad and ready for deployment.

These factional pets were nothing when compared to the AT-STs that the Imperials could deploy. That make sense, as the Imperials should have the better toys.

That still did not prevent Vincer and his V-Squad from taking down a few AT-STs when landing on Dantooine and getting ambushed by a player and his Imperial pets. With the help of a Commando (and despite over half the squad making an unexpected trip to the cloners), we won the day. Our trip to the Jedi Temple later on? Well... I think our luck had run out earlier.

SWG Thought of the Day: Equal Time

One of the biggest failings of both the developers and the community is treating the space and ground aspects of Star Wars Galaxies as separate entities. The greatest effort should be made to blur the dividing lines, both perceived and actual.

Space is not only for pilots. Jango Fett is first and foremost a bounty hunter, much as Han Solo is considered a smuggler. Yet both demonstrate an incredible aptitude for piloting ships. Fett hunts his prey in space as well as on the ground, just as Solo's most famous smuggling escapades took place in the spacelanes.

When SOE introduces content, it should update those aspects of SWG that lend itself to the most rewarding and enriching experience. If this includes or precludes space and/or ground in order to support the subject matter at hand, so be it.

Neither space nor ground need "Equal Time" in development since both should be on the "Same Time".

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Poll Results: Artoo Where Are You?

The first poll that Artoo has been tasked to analyze attempted to learn what gameplay aspects of Star Wars Galaxies most interests players. Without further ado, here is the official and final tally of the poll: "What Do You Like Most About SWG?"

The most telling statistic I see is (among the few visitors of this blog) that Collecting is the least important aspect of SWG gameplay. It's interesting because SOE has turned this game into a Collection-based game; anywhere from gather collections, kill collections or even through the Trading Card Game.

The number one vote getter is Exploration, which lends itself towards professions that are no longer part of the game (Ranger and Scout). This statistic may also illustrate that many players prefer a solo experience when interacting with the NPC/Creature gaming world.

That is not to say that these players are not social as the second highest vote getters are both Roleplaying and Socializing.

Of those who participated in this poll, we find that players are very casual but yet serious about their in-game experience and immersion. It is important to interact with others who are sharing similar experiences, but also have the opportunity to explore the far reaches of the galaxy and discover new and interesting locations and sights.

I had incorrectly anticipated that Space would receive more votes as this is a gaming system that is quite complex and interactive; from crafting to mastering, the starship system has much to offer. But in the end, only Collecting received fewer votes. This could point towards a problem with space; perhaps a stagnation that has occurred since (essentially) only Collections have been added since the initial release of Jump to Lightspeed. Collections? In Space? Let the poll speak for itself!

PvP made a strong showing after a sluggish start. The poll participants found both PvP and PvE almost as appealing. Throw crafting into the mix with a similar tally and we could surmise that players enjoy gameplay that pits them against both real and artificial opponents in either combat or economic situations.

According to this poll (with its numbers skewed towards those players who visit a very little known blog), SOE should continue to enhance the social and exploration aspects of the game; playing to its strengths so as to not alienate those who feel strongly towards those styles of play. At the same time, SOE should downplay the use of Collections and improve Space to bring it in line with the expectations placed upon other systems. (Imagine, if you will, Scouting or Ranger missions in space - discovering new life forms or hyperspace paths.)

Thanks to everyone who voted, and a special thanks to Artoo for crunching the numbers!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hot Topics: Appearance Tab

The latest Friday Feature makes official the inclusion of the Appearance Tab into Star Wars Galaxies. Naturally, this becomes a Hot Topic instantly.

There is the predicted lashback coming from the PvP "community" who are afraid that people will be running around Restuss ("Recess") in pink Hawt Pants, but actually be wearing a full set of capped RIS armor.

So what? Why would anyone assume that people are not fully prepared for battle regardless of how they might appear? If you're in a combat situation, you should be as prepared and ready as possible and assume the same of your enemy. Get over yourselves and enjoy this new and welcome addition to the game.

In regards to immersion... sure, pink hawt pants on an Imperial may look (and be) ridiculous, but more folks are going to put together some official looking outfits that will enhance everyones experience. Just ignore those tools that feel the only way to play a game is to ensure everyone is looking at them acting like morons. Just ignore them and they'll not affect your time in the game.

The Appearance Tab is great news; and "early next year" can't come soon enough for Chapter 6 to drop. (And let's not forget the expected fix to the female eye wear as well.)

I submit that Chapter 6 be called: "Attack of AdeptStrain". The guy is on fire and should be given all the free time in the world to enhance the game.

Meanwhile, go thank Valara for this latest Hot Topic.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Life Day!

It is that time of year again to celebrate Life Day. Despite the Empire's best efforts at containing this traditional Wookiee holiday, citizens of the galaxy - including those at Oracle Base - managed to gear up and head out to spread the holiday cheer.

Vincer and Cyra pose before one of the many Life Day trees that have been decorated for the children. With Imperials about, Vincer takes nothing for granted and keeps his rifle ready. Life Day is a time for all life, including Sox and Amber.

Garova hangs his Holiday Poster in his office, which usually houses many Wookiee keepsakes. Garova is a deeply sentimental Wookiee and knows full well the joy of having a family, both actual and extended.

Not everyone loves Life Day, it would seem. The grumpy Loh'khar helped his servant Cor'qi decorate for Life Day, but only because he was promised gifts afterwards. Cor'qi did not disappoint; Loh'khar loved his Holo Entertainment Table. Cor'qi was delighted to not receive the lump of coal that Loh'khar threatened her with all year.

Garova poses with Murdok in front of a Life Day Tree that he decorated. The children of Doaba Guerfel were overcome with joy to meet Garova and his young pet. Though most of the children couldn't understand Garova's Wookiee-speak, they still listened with great interest as he told the traditional tales before handing out gifts.

No celebration is complete without fireworks. Before the squad from Oracle Base stole away to return to their hidden headquarters, they launched fireworks into the snow-filled sky.

Life Day was another tremendous success, and not even the opressive Empire could ruin the festitivies. Happy Life Day!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Did You Notice: Microtransactions?

Did you notice that a few SWG forum members are asking for micro-transactions and/or an electronic store to purchase goods. With Station Cash being announced from SOE, it seems to be only a matter of time before SWG is making use of a similar system (Station Credits?)

As predicted, it will almost seem that the players are asking for such a payment plan since it would be the lesser of two evils when compared to the TCG-loot system where there is quite literally no limit to the amount of money spent for little or no return on the investment.

So... did you notice?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

SWG Idea: Resource Warehouse

Would anyone like to use the Barn system to create a resource warehouse?

There can be a Load Lifter droid that you interface with. From him, you can browse, search and sort the stored resources, drop off new stacks or retrieve a stored stack.

The resources would then not need to be stored on the client side as art resources. The interior of the facility can be decorated as the owner sees fit.

Put an admin terminal on there, and maybe even a way to link it to factories to create a production line.

It would also be pretty cool to have building "sockets" to install the various recycler tools. A DE could create a droid that has the ability to interface with those recyclers for the building admin. That way you don't have to pick up the recycler and the resource stack, but could do it all via the droid interface.

Click the following link to join in the discussion.

Use the Barn to Create a Resource Warehouse

Friday, December 12, 2008

SWG Thought of the Day: Life Day Announced

Life Day has returned to Star Wars Galaxies. It looks like there's something for everyone in there, but I have a feeling that the hot "toy" this season is going to be the new STAP speeder. I've seen it in action on TC and it looks like a lot of fun. Engineers aren't completely ignored as they'll be able to break one down and build it even better.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hot Topics: Free Character Transfer Service

Another new feature of the site: Hot Topics! This feature will attempt to pick one of the latest hot topics going on in the SWG universe.

Suddenly, the TCG loot battle takes a back seat to the Free Character Transfer Service. Today, SOE announced the full server lists and much of it comes as a surprise!

So it seems as if a lot of low-populated servers are on the destination list, which is the fuel for the confusion and surprise. But after giving this some thought, it does make a degree of sense.

If the idea is to eventually close down the servers that aren't on the target list, there will need to be room to move the remaining toons. Having some low pop servers on the target list ensures this, I believe.

Another shocker is the fact that new toons will be able to be created on the servers marked for transferring off of. I'm not so sure this is entirely fair to new players who would not know that they're about to join up on a dying server.

The server lists seem set in stone according to Valara. One thing is for certain, it's going to be a busy 2009 for SWG. Could I be wrong about server merges? Maybe. Maybe not. Time will tell, and that time will be sometime in Spring 2009.

Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seat belts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New TCG Expansion: Fixed!

SWG Thought of the Day: SOE Responds to the TCG Loot Issue

So we have our first response regarding the TCG loot fiasco. If you've not followed along on the official forums, a portion of the playerbase is fairly upset that SWG content is being offered for sale via a Trading Card Game system.

Let's break down the response from the SWG Producer.

Profession Specific Content
We are offering profession specific content in and out of the TCG. The Max Rebo's Classics book (available through the Galactic Moon Festival), Bantha Surprise Recipe (Life Day), and the Game Updates attest to this.

Yep. And that's what we expect. There's our monthly subscription money hard at work. Remind me again why I could conceivably shell out hundreds of dollars and not receive a Beast Master-related item in the forthcoming TCG expansion? Remind me again why a structures trader cannot build this item and sell it back to the galaxy?

By the way, if the TCG is not supposed to affect SWG gameplay in any way (if I recall that being said by SOE), then why do you say "We are offering profession specific content in ... the TCG"?

And can you please tell the Jedi community when they should start saving up for the TCG-exclusive saber hilt and/or Sith Master robes loot cards? They'd probably like to know.

Boosters/Loot Dropping In-Game
There are no plans for this to happen; we give each player with a SWG subscription five free packs per month instead.

But it's five free packs for the current TCG release. Loot cards that existed prior to the current release are not available for free. It is required to use real world money to acquire these items, rather then SWG-related purchased (via vendors), quests, collections or the like.

That noise you're hearing is the music that the SOE accounting department is dancing around to.

Adding Structures as Schematics
With the TCG rewards we need to fulfill a need for both casual AND hardcore SWG players. A new or casual player may not even know how to find crafters in the game. They just know that they got a cool item and they want to use that item immediately in-game. This is why although the Diner is not given in schematic form. We did keep Structures Traders in mind though by giving them new schematics for Diner furniture. Therefore, a casual player gets the Diner and a small amount of d├ęcor to make it look like a Diner interior. However, if they are more than just a casual player they will know that Structures Traders can make them additional counters, tables, and seats (via the new schematics) so that their Diner can look even better.Despite not being mentioned in the Producer Note, Structures Traders will receive an update in 2009.

Wait, wait, wait. "A new or casual player may not even know how to find crafters in the game"? Are you serious? Let me ask that again: "Are you serious?" There are only nine professions that a player may choose from. One of those is the trader that contains four crafting vocations. How stupid do you assume your players are?

I can't wait for the Structures Trader Update in 2009. That way all those hardcore gamers can buy some new furniture from the secret society of structures crafters that only they know about. Shh... don't tell the new and casual players!

Pffft. I've been a casual gamer for years. Don't assume I want things easy.

On that note, doesn't the tutorial continuation in Mos Eisley show new players how to use the bazaar?

Cripes, I could go on about this one blurb all day. It is absolutely LADEN with the reasons why SWG struggles to succeed.

And by the way, good job immersing new players. If the focus is: "We want new subscribers to be able to immediately enjoy their barn", I think SOE is missing the point of someone subscribing to a Star Wars game. Is the barn nice? Hell yes. Is it something that a new player should be salivating for? Likely not.

Besides, how many new subscribers do you think will have ANY of the TCG loot? You expect them to sign up and plunk down mad money on the TCG? Give me... a BREAK!

Jee-zus. I really could go on all day about this one.

Changing TCG Loot to be Available In-Game
There are no plans for this to happen. We may at some point have similar items that are released in the MMO but we will not repurpose the exact same items. Releasing the exact same items in-game would be unfair to anybody who attains the TCG item by purchasing a booster pack. For example, we may at some point release a Podracer outside of the TCG. If we do it will not be the Ord Pedrovia Podracer.

"(N)o plans for this to happen."? You bet there isn't. What company would willingly turn off their Money Printing Machine?

May I suggest you just "flip it around"? Why not put the items in SWG first, and then at a later date put "altered" versions of the gear into the TCG? Isn't that the same thing? Does that not meet the design requirements for SOE? That way, the items in the two systems are different. Just as you intended, right? Isn't that what you're trying to feed us.

What's that? You'd sell less booster packs if you put loot cards in that were only slightly different versions of what SWG already has? Oh. How strange! I wonder if the reverse would hold true in regards to subscriptions sold?

Don't insult our intelligence.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

SWG Thought of the Day: Under Rug Swept

It sort of feels like SOE is just bouncing around the complaints about the TCG between forums, locking and deleting as they please. I suppose it's the old SOE tactic of encouraging dissension in the community so that we fight against each other rather then presenting clear concerns and communications directly to the company.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Did You Notice: Community Members

Nothing brings people together like a good cause. This latest TCG debacle has really polarized the community. The GPD forums are alive with very well-thought out and mature posts that describe the general displeasure with the games new direction in regards to TCG loot. It's nice to see people working together, agreeing to disagree where healthy, and forming up into a orderly but firm voice to express their concerns to SOE.

So... did you notice?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Did You Notice: SWG Mods?

It's the first installment of a new feature: Did You Notice? Every now and again, and certainly when the mood strikes me, I'll try to pick out something that I'm not sure others have noticed. Given my recent battles with the SWG Forum Mods, I thought I'd start with them.

Did you ever notice that SWG Mods 001-006 (or however many there are) sometimes type just like Valara and/or Elias?

Valara's posts are generally written in full sentences, usings plenty of "pleases" and ending with a "Thank you!", while Elias writes in a more blunt fashion; far more direct and less friendly.

I guess when they don't want to feel the heat of the kitchen, they put on an anonymous, flame-proof suit and pretend to be someone else.

I mean really, if SOE has so few programmers, why would they invest so much in moderating a forum?

So... did you notice?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

SWG Thought of the Day: If It's Not the NGE...?

Here we go again. If you've followed along so far, you'll know that I recently took umbrage to having a thread locked based on an arbitrary ruling of "trolling". When I pressed for a better response, I learned that posts regarding the "NGE" are discouraged because (and I perform a translation here) some posters can't control their anger so it's my fault. Not to mention there are "millions of posts about the NGE also". Even though my post was original in my opinion.

My declaration that the current game IS the NGE and that ALL posts could be considered illegal based on the ruling made against me seemed to fall on deaf ears.

So I created a new topic asking the community if they could think of a new term to refer to the current gameplay system. (Because you know, this isn't really the NGE). It was a serious topic and received a few nice suggestions.

Before it was deleted. No explanation. No response when I PM'd Elias.

I could only guess that I should have done a Forum Search first to see if there was a post already. Because you know, there are a million posts out there, according to Mr. Elias.

So I perform a search for the term NGE in the title, ordered by date descending. The only applicable GPD thread regarding the NGE (and was not already locked) was seven pages back in the results; just over two years old.

So now I'm forced to suffer the ambiguous "necro" rule, and maybe even tempt the easily identified "highjacking" rule.

I post again, explaining the situation, and asking the community for an alternative to the term "NGE".

You must know that I am being cordial and mature in my posts. I contain my frustration and anger and try to resolve a serious issue.

So the entire two year old thread gets deleted in a few short minutes. But not before a small group of us decide that SWG:GU is a nice and positive way to refer to the current game implementation. "GU" refers to the fact that this is the Game Update era of SWG. I'll use it. (And that's much better then what I was going to call it: NGE2!) I apologize for not remembering the posters name who suggested this. It is lost in limbo due to the delete.

So what have we learned?

Posts about the NGE are discouraged. Also posts asking for a term other then the NGE are deleted.

Great. Thanks. Well done, Elias. Keep up the good work. And oh, if it gets too hot in the kitchen, be sure to login as SWGMOD002 and hide there while you dish out your censorship and practice your police state.

This whole "forum madness" has really highjacked my Thoughts of the Day. Tomorrow, I'll try to return to game-related topics. On my shortlist is this whole TCG loot debacle that SOE is pulling. I've been venting on the forums already.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

SWG Thought of the Day: The Non-Combat Aspect

Does SWG have the best non-combat aspects of all MMOs on the market? If not, then it's got to be in the upper echelon. From entertaining to a complex crafting system, the emotes and animations to the storyteller system. Lest we forget decorating and personal vendors, and player cities. Star Wars: The Old Republic is going to look like a console-based WoW clone compared to SWG's bread and butter.

It's amazing to me that SWG has mastered the hardest parts of an MMO, but has yet to fully realize a combat and profession system that lives up to the potential of the intellectual property.

Monday, December 1, 2008

SWG Thought of the Day: Moderator Response

So I finally received a response from the moderator after sending Private Messages every day. Here is the response I received.

I think I've previously made it clear that there is no reason to post yet another NGE thread. I'm sorry if that offends you but posting about something that happened three years ago and always turns into flaming is not needed. Please steer clear of posting abotu the NGE because it can be interpreted as trolling.


Uh huh. Nice. That's as close to an apology as I'm going to get. Here is my response, but I assume that it will end there. For everyone's sake, I hope it does.

Thank you for the response; I do appreciate it. Obviously my post was read as trolling then. While the NGE "happened" three years ago, we are still playing that system today. If I am comparing this game system to any other system, I can only use the term "NGE" in order to communicate my message.

Regarding the message, I felt it relevant to note that other games that did not follow this MMO template were failing, while SWG continued to succeed.

I can find no other forum post that made this connection and was happy to receive some mature and serious responses that were on-topic. Many players were not around three years ago, but my post took place during the "Veteran Free Month" time as well, and those players were likely involved in both game systems.

I recommend updating the Forum Rules to clarify the action taken against me. There is no rule that states posts speaking about the NGE are discouraged. In fact, any post that discusses any existing gameplay is discussing the NGE. Your censors would need to double their efforts.

We must just agree to disagree, as I feel my post was legit, topical, and original. Locking such a thread is ridiculous, if I can be frank.

Good day to you,

You know, I never realized I was so against censorship. I think what really burns me up is the fact that there is some form of arbitrary ruling at play here; a clear abuse of power. And I still, to this day, believe that the moderator did not even read the original posting but rather just saw the term NGE and decided to make use of the cute little moderator buttons that are hidden from regular schmucks like myself.

Oh, the offensive posting (actually, a positive SOE/SWG post for the most part) can be found here. How dare I troll?

Maybe next time, I'll post a poll. Those aren't entirely illegal by the wording of the Forum Rules either.