Tuesday, March 31, 2009

SWG Thought of the Day: Holiday Madness!

Another real life holiday, another in-game event. Enough is enough, really. Sure, it's nice that we've got something new to do, if only for 24 hours. (And for what it's worth, I like the exclusivity; the small window of opportunity.) But just once... no, actually I mean more then once; quite often; and at no set interval... I'd like to see some in-game events that have absolutely nothing to do with real life holidays and absolutely everything to do with the fantasy world of Star Wars.

Not one to sit back and and make wild demands only, I present a few ideas to chew on.
  • AT-ATs march on Anchorhead. Double GCW rewards for Special Forces, plenty of combatant opportunities including specific missions for both varieties of GCW involvement.
  • Geonosians attempt to gather DNA samples from Rancors near the Science Outpost on Dathomir. The Witches aren't none too pleased leading to a battleground between the two. Choose a side!
  • Valarian gathers her loyalists together to blow up Jabba's spaceport facility. They set charges and then steal into space. Jabba, meanwhile, calls on his best smugglers to intercept them in the orbit around Tatooine.
  • The Queen of Naboo hires entertainers to perform at a Theater on Theed. The audience will have different demands depending upon the time of day. Those successful shall receive temporary items that color the entertainer hologram performers.
  • The Rebels are in dire need of supplies. Crafters need to gather specific resources, craft items needed by the Alliance Requisition branch of the Rebellion and find a way to deliver the goods to any one of numerous random rendezvous points.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Did You Notice: Waypoint Macros

Did you notice that you can create multiple waypoints at once by using a macro?

I needed to create numerous waypoints out of one of the SWG Collection Guides that can be found on the forums. For some reason, getting the copy/paste to work into the chatbox was fruitless. What to do; what to do, indeed?

I found that I could paste the waypoints into a new macro, then trigger it to create all the waypoints at once. Not to shabby! Within a few minutes, I was out and about, collecting rare weapons and armor around Corellia.

I even came to a location I've never seen before. In the western mountains of Corellia, within swoopbike distance from the Rebel Base, I came upon a strange structure guarded by mercenaries and a Sullustan who claimed to be a fallen padawan.

Forced to fight the unexpected lot, my droid Jones and I cleared them off. Turns out there is a pile of bones at the top that hides the remains of a Rebel; probably the last one who found the strange structure before I stumbled upon it.

That sort of thing is still what puts SWG so far ahead of the competition; that to this day a Beta 3 player can still be delightfully suprised at finding something new.

Waypoints macros and Sullustan fallen padawans? So... did you notice?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

SWG Idea: Improving the AI

To say this game has Artificial Intelligence is a gross exaggeration. Very few PvE opponents in this game present any form of tactical challenge. (You are free to insert an appropriate PvP joke here, if it pleases you.)

Aside from knowing when to fire off a heal and when to close up the store and run from the aggro, combat in SWG is little more then two very large numbers each informing the other how much to subtract; first one to zero loses.

If your toon is properly equipped with level-appropriate weapons, armor, and expertise, you should have absolutely no trouble defeating any single opponent (and likely a few of his buddies) of similar level. Add in some entertainer, medic, or officer buffs and the game fails to deliver any sort of combat worth talking about later over drinks at a cantina.

Without increasing the difficulty - because that just perpetuates the continued passes over the player professions - how can we make combat more engaging and less "target lock, button mash" oriented?

First thing to do is to categorize the potential PvE opponents. Despite the names, the following terms apply to both creatures and NPCs. For simplicity's sake, we will refer to all PvE opponents as "creatures".


It is VERY important that the game provide visual clues and information that can be used by players to learn how the AI is operating. For example, if a certain creature in a mob is unique in that it acts in a Support combat role, it should become evident to the experienced player that this creature will perform that combat role.

It should not be guesswork beyond the initial encounter (or for those who simply refuse to learn how the gameworld is reacting to them.)

This point cannot be stressed enough, as the goal is not to surprise the player but rather provide them with an additional level of detail and combat immersion from which they can learn and adapt their tactics from.

Read and Discuss: How Can We Improve the AI?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

SWG 101: Placing a Vendor

If you are one of the crafter professions, you will gain access to placing a vendor to sell your wares. Once you qualify for placing a vendor (Level 7), follow these simple steps.
  1. Enter a structure that you own or have admin to
  2. Locate the structure terminal and bring up the radial menu
  3. Select "Create Vendor"
  4. You will be presented with a few screens where you choose the type, gender and name of the vendor.
  5. Once complete, the vendor will appear in your inventory. Hit "I" to bring up the inventory and find the vendor.
  6. Bring up the radial menu on the vendor and select "Examine". Check the vendor and ensure it has an appearance that you are happy with; you cannot change the appearance. If you do not like the appearance, you can delete the vendor and return to step 2.
  7. Stand in the location where you would like the vendor to work from.
  8. Bring up the radial menu and select "Drop Vendor"
  9. If you do not like the location you chose, target the vendor and type "/pickup". Return to step 7.
  10. Use the vendor's radial menu and select "Initialize..." to activate it.
  11. The vendor can no longer be moved from its spot, but you can rotate it around using /rotate yaw n, where n is a number of degrees to rotate the vendor.

Congratulation! You have placed a vendor. This concludes the basics, but you should not stop there. It is important that you pay maintenance on the vendor. There are other functions that allow the vendor to be customized to your tastes, but those are beyond the scope of this most basic guide.

Good luck on your new venture, and may the credits come quickly!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hot Topics: The Complete Community Codex of the Storyteller System

Leyah has contributed a tremendous guide to the powerful storyteller system. Already off to an informative start, it promises to expand into something that should be kept only a click away for anyone who is serious about being a storyteller.

Visit the guide now and leave your support for it to be a sticky link.

SWG Thought of the Day: Loyalty Repaid?

The veteran reward system falls short of its intended design of rewarding players for their continued loyalty since they don't disqualify non-paid months. So just what does SOE do to thank players for their loyalty? Should they even?

SOE is a for-profit company, so their desire to maximize their revenue is to be expected. I do find it disconcerting that they have deviated from their original business plan and model in regards to Star Wars Galaxies in order to achieve the maximum bottom line.

At some time, within the last decade, SOE and LA sat together and hashed out a plan to make a really cool and complex MMO based on the Star Wars intellectual property. With dollar signs blinking in their eyes, they went to work and delivered on that plan. Say what you will about the original release, it generated interest and subscriptions.

Combat Upgrades, NGEs, ill-advised implementations of Jedi, and the like could not truly bring the game to its knees despite those who persistently duck for cover from falling skies. The reason that SWG has been able to weather the storms that SOE inflicted could be attributed to the fact that said changes were at least within the realm of the original business plan: Make a Star Wars MMO.

I do not need SOE to reward me with gifts for my loyalty. I do not expect them to personally address all of my needs and wants for my toons. I do not expect them to grant me free playtime, additional slots, or fancy titles.

But I do need SOE to return to the business plan that brought me to their doorstep in the first place. Make a Star Wars MMO about life in the galaxy post-Battle of Yavin. The Rebellion has proven that they are a capable force. The Galaxy is at war. The Empire is divided.

Deliver this to me and you shall continue to have my loyalty.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sarlacc Snacks: Fourth Feeding? Crap!

So I select just the right meal for the discerning palette of the baby sarlacc, but then what do I see? Yeah, the little gauge on the side that tells you how many feedings the thing has had is down to one. One?!

Well, it's a known issue. I think there's a post somewhere from Jaskell claiming that a patch is on the way. But I should go on record and say that this is the first time I really expected crap from SWG and didn't get it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

SWG Idea: Ambient Sounds

I got to thinking - it might be nice for structures players to craft other items that add ambient sound. They need only be small items that could be easily hidden from view. Here are a few examples, which could be set to Off, Random, Contant or Intermitent, as well as have their radius set similar to the greeters.
  • Wind
  • Gears
  • Plumbing
  • Drips and Drops
  • Rain
  • Fire
  • Waves
  • Chatter
  • Droids
  • Mechanical hum
  • Passing Ships
  • Muffled Speech

It gives decorators another tool to work with; one that works on sound rather then sight.

Discuss this now!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Classic SWG: And So It Ends...

The beta for Star Wars Galaxies ended much like many of the beta sessions ended: "Connection to SWG Lost".

Here we see Vincer, Cyra (who provided the screencap) and Ooyna standing outside Coronet, Corellia. We seemed to have finished off that Meatlump easily enough (Does he have a name? Interesting!), but it was the Bria server that finished us off once and for all.

It was a bittersweet ending, but we had made plans to meet up on Launch Day on the Starsider Galaxy. Beta was more fun then should have been allowed for free, but we did our fair share of work. Bug were reported often and discussions on the beta forums were focused, mature and productive.

Ah, the good old days. We'll always have our memories. In particular I remember the general outcry that told SOE "Don't launch! It's not ready!" Was it because we wanted to keep playing for free? Or was it because... well.. the game wasn't ready?

You decide.

Monday, March 16, 2009

SWG Idea: Establishing Imperial Rule: Part III: Non-Human Imperials: Still Possible?

In Part I, we began organizing the Imperial rule at the player city level. This was to allow players an active role in how the Galactic Civil War progresses in a meaningful way; a different experience depending upon the server played upon.

In Part II, we established some very basic rules suggestions that simulated the Imperial artificial intelligence system; a way of blacklisting items and activities that are tallied via a red flag system. In short, it offered a way for the Imperials to establish rules and to police those who must abide by them. We also used this system to lay the groundwork for a supply and demand system as it applies to a Civil War, as well as the allocation and movement of Imperial resources as they are needed.

Here in Part III, we seek to adhere to canon without severely and permanently changing character concepts. (The Wookiee Imperial, for instance). We will leverage the existing artificial intelligence from Part II, as well as continue to build towards the study where we address the punishment and imprisonment system.

Grand Admiral Thrawn? Admiral Daala? This study is for you!

Read Part III Now!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sarlacc Snacks: Feeding Schedule

For being such a little fellow, he sure can eat. At least it's only once a week.

It seems that his digestive pattern has finally normalized. Almost down to the minute, he completes his meal from the previous week and starts looking for the next hand-out. He (and again, I am only guessing at the gender; and even if someone told me how to check its sex, I'm going to go ahead and pass on that, okay) has now consumed his third meal and shows no signs of slowing down.

This time around, he's been given an old, expired travel ticket that I had stuffed in my backpack. The travel information had faded, so it's of no use to me. But to the non-discerning sarlacc baby, expired travel tickets are the stuff that desserts are made of!

So to review, the little fellow has eaten a Tool Kit, a Comlink, and now an Expired Travel Ticket. He's far less demanding then Scruffy, Amber or any of the other pets that I've called my own.

Poll Results: Do You Live In a Player City?

Once again we call for Artoo to help us understand the tremendous amounts of data that has poured in for the latest poll. Unfortunately once Artoo arrived, we had to tell him that we only have 15 participants. But who are we to complain? Any data is good data, as long as you have a dedicated astromech droid on hand to make sense of it all.

Given that player cities and structures are in the process of receiving updates, we thought it would be a good idea to see just how many people this development would affect.

According to the poll results, 94% of the playerbase would be affected by any changes made to the player city system; a system that sets SWG apart from nearly every other MMO worth remembering.

Of those participating in the poll, 26% are also the mayors of their city. The position of mayor is often a thankless post, but at least it is free to hold unlike the days in the past when every vote mattered, and skill points needed to be diverted from other ventures to succeed.

Even without notable game mechanic requirements to becoming a mayor, the most successful will shine and stand out from others. There is a drive and determination to build the most successful city; to use what little is available to create a unique experience in terms of a living space for others to enjoy.

Despite other areas of the game that need swift attention, it is evident that these updates will not simply fluff up releases without offering any substance.

Friday, March 13, 2009

SWG Idea: Establishing Imperial Rule: Part II: Imperial Planetary Control, Both Space and Ground

In Part I, we explored a game mechanic and system that revolved around Player City Fealty - a way for the Imperials to control the galaxy while giving players real choices with significant consequences. By influencing these cities, players will begin to feel the political ramifications of siding with or against the Empire, which, in turn, could lead to political disputes or even open conflict at the player city level. Depending upon the size of the cities and of the amount of "rebel activity", the Empire would devote resources towards holding power and punishing those who stand against them.

Again, we will refrain from exploring too deeply the Rebellion side of the war. First, we must put all the pieces in place for those who control the galaxy. Only then can we find ways for the upstart Alliance to stage a rebellion.

In Part II, we build upon the Player City Fealty system to understand how the Empire leverages the results of those cities and player decisions to maintain control in ways that are unique to each planet, and certainly all servers.

Read Part II Now!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SWG Thought of the Day: Matters of Complexity

Reminded of Dotanuki's statement that a schematic gifted to a newer player would result in confusion of what to do; how they would not know to take it to a trader, I find myself suggesting that we take a two-fold approach to the matter of some much needed complexity.

First, implement tools and systems that offer education to these player and secondly, stop making this game so simple that a child could succeed simply by logging in. Free gifts and rewards are nice from time to time, but let us work for it for once.

As our very own poll recently showed, many players would enjoy penalties for death. That fact alone helps underscore a desire to have a complex, dangerous and thought provoking game that does not simply offer praise for left clicking a mouse.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

SWG Idea: Establishing Imperial Rule, Introduction and Part I

Before the Galactic Civil War can be properly realized in a way that adheres to the mythology of Star Wars; before the classic struggle of good versus evil can be played out in a meaningful way, SWG must first establish one side as the ultimate power in the universe; the evil, far-reaching hand that seeks to clamp down on liberty and freedom despite propaganda to the contrary; false promises of peace abound while entire races fall victim to Palpatine's war machine.

In short, there can be no Rebellion in SWG until there is something worth fighting for. A new series of studies will seek to suggest ways to establish the Imperial Rule.

Read the first installment now: GCW: Establishing Imperial Rule: Introduction and Part I

Sunday, March 8, 2009

SWG 101: Naming a Droid

For the first lesson in SWG 101, we're going to discuss the basics behind naming a droid.
  1. When you deploy a droid, bring up the radial menu. By default, you can do this by clicking on the droid and hitting the tilde key in the upper left of your keyboard.

  2. Look for the Program option and select it. This will bring up a window that contains all the possible droid actions, along with the default commands.

  3. Select an action. You will be prompted to say something in chat that will become the word or phrase that will be tied to the action. The next step describes this in further detail.

  4. In your chat box, enter the word or phrase you wish to use to get the droid to perform the action you selected in the previous step. Here is the important part: Precede this command with the name of the droid. For example: "Artoo follow" or "Goldenrod attack"

  5. Repeat steps 3 - 4 three more times. Each time, select a different command but use the EXACT same name preceding the command. After the fourth successful command learned, the droid will accept its name.

  6. If the droid does NOT accept its name, then the name is not valid for SWG. Choose another name and try again.

Extra Credit: Did you know that you can use the /tellpet command? For example, simply enter "/tellpet Artoo follow" to quietly give the orders to your droid. Only you and your pet will hear the command, so you don't end up spamming your groupmates.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sarlacc Snacks: Have You Seen My Phone?

Oh, there it went. Right into the belly of the beast.

Tired of being hungry, the baby sarlacc took matters into his own... er... her own... um... hands? Err... okay, see, there's these tentacles, right?

Anyway, don't bother calling. Seems I've lost my comlink. By "lost" I mean, it's been eaten. I'd fish it out, but it's not quite clear if and when this little guy (oh, YOU know what I mean) will be hungry again, and I'd rather not lose my wrist chronometer, too.

So that's that. Another snack. No comlink for me? It might be a blessing in disguise.

Hold my calls.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Did You Notice: Loot Card Lashback

Did you notice that more and more combat-profession players are asking for the loot card items to instead be given to crafters? Ships, structures and vehicles seem to be a recurring theme, but it won't be long before combat gear is snuck into the deck as well. Not to mention that beasts have been included in the latest "go 'round" of the SOE Money Grab.

Such a shame, really. SWG was really starting to turn the corner with some excellent devs and a slight upward turn in the subscription numbers if my perception is any indication, of course. Then the land us with the TCG that no one wanted - even those who say they love it now.

The TCG community manager recently announced that the loot items themselves are developed by SOE Austin. Turns out - as if we didn't know - that the TCG is, in fact, impacting SWG in some capacity. For shame, SOE. For shame.

The lashback is ongoing and likely will continue.

So... did you notice?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

SWG Idea: Fixing the Fixer, Part II

From a story and character development perspective, most characters in the Star Wars universe keep the same droids throughout their experience. Though old Ben may not seem to remember owning a droid, he kept his basic model during the closing moments of the Clone Wars even after it lost its head!

And so it goes for characters elsewhere, leading to droids who are often some of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars stories.

In Part II of our "Fixing the Fixer" SWG Idea feature, we propose that Engineers gain the ability to overhaul existing droids to take on new characteristics. This could include anything from upgrading (or even downgrading) combat capabilities, removing crafting stations in favor of new ones, personality chip replacements, turning a harvest droid into an entertainer droid and more!

Of course such modifications do not come without a price. No, not just the credits that the engineer might charge for their services, but a potential change in the droid itself. Perhaps it develops a power fluctuation that makes it burn through batteries at variable rates, or its personality changes without anyones provocation. It may also develop erratic movement features - slower, a limp, shifting from foot-to-foot (all on the premise that droid movement is fixed in the first place!).

Once a droid develops these quirks, there is no turning back. Owners either learn to deal with these unexpected (and hopefully fun) features, or they will be calling their engineer for that latest model at long last. Each modification increases the chance of the droid developing a new trait.