Sunday, February 8, 2009

Classic SWG: Waiting for the Shuttle

One of the strongest aspects of Star Wars Galaxies is the social possibilities, tools and environments. No other MMO that I have tried even begins to compare with what SOE has developed. But as times change and we move into what can be called "second gen" MMOs, even SWG has adjusted to be more... heroic?

Pictured above is Vincer and a young Cu waiting for the shuttle. (That Cu is still a baby tells me that the image is from a time before mounts were included, thus not long after launch.) What the shot fails to show is the number of people who would convene around the shuttle droid to wait for their passage. Boring right? Just like sitting in a camp?

Not quite. As a natural gathering point, it was an excellent opportunity to partake (or even listen) in on conversations, gather important intel or just make new friends (or enemies!).

It was originally a nine minute wait between shuttles. Folks would dance, craft, or just chatter away. Running into a guildmate or a "friends-lister" was always a boon and a nice way to pass the time. Especially after arriving just seconds after the last shuttle took off. (And if you talk to anyone from this era of play, they'll say that it happened all the time to them!)

In time, as doctor buffs became more common and required, buff lines would appear in and around starports. AFK spammers would shout out about their shops and wares or attempt to recruit you for their guilds. Those seeking to master their professions should shout for training or even for those to train. SWG felt alive and full of beans.

Could shuttle wait times come back? No, I would hope not. Players have become accustomed to the current means of transport. Forcing them back into waiting offers no real benefit. Those who are naturally social will find a way to interact, and those who prefer to be more of a loner shall never be forced into socializing no matter how long they wait for the ticket droid to permit them to board.

But the spirit of socialization should always be an important ingredient in any part of SWG, from Life Day gifts to player-driven event tools such as the forthcoming "storyteller costumes".

SWG will never be the FPS that it tries to emulate at all the wrong times. It will never have the balanced PvP that so many are looking for. It may never evoke visions of the Galactic Civil War as presented in our beloved movies. But it can and will always be an accessible galaxy wherein interacting with others is only a keystroke away, where meaningful friendships are created in a virtual world.

If you reach the common denominator of what really has people longing for classic SWG, it's more likely the lost social opportunities due to a decrease in subscribers more then any removed game mechanic.

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