Thursday, July 7, 2011

Every Journey Has a Beta

Let's continue down Memory Lane without images for at least one more day. Our journey through beta is quickly coming to an end, and I've either lost many screencaps, or failed to take them in the first place. These were fast and fun times, and clicking PRINT SCREEN wasn't a knee-jerk reaction yet as this was my first MMO.

So let me just remind myself how it all went down; how did I get into beta in the first place?

As a fan of the offline pen-and-paper Star Wars RPG from Wizards of the Coast, I had been a subscriber of the Star Wars Gamer magazine. For several months throughout 2001 and 2002, they covered this new game called Star Wars Galaxies. I found myself fascinated by it: it was an RPG but online... with other players around the world. It was Star Wars inside and out and I'd be able to experience it all.

I found the official website and must have signed up for beta, then forgot all about doing so. I continued to follow the game, dedicating my valuable wallpaper image to it.

Early 2003, I received a beta invitation in the mail. To say I was excited is to do a disservice to my emotions. The whole dream nearly collapsed as I couldn't remember what account I used to sign-up. All the "usual suspects" for my authorization were not taking. I sent a frantic "Help please!" message to some support mail. I'm still, to this day in 2011, waiting for a reply.

But I was able to guess and eventually get in, download the client, and load it up. For about 10 minutes. Then the beta server - Bria - came down.

SOE sent me a snail mail of the discs. But those were just mementos since a digital copy was retrieved already.

Naturally I rolled up Vincer Kaden, my long-standing favorite offline RPG character. I figured scout would be a good start. I managed through the tutorial and elected Theed as my starting point. I can still recall the exact feeling and thought process I had when coming out of the starport. There were characters everywhere, and as far as I knew, they were all players. I couldn't differentiate just yet.

Yesterday I described my first real adventure with a Shaupaut. There is also the "Everybody's Lost But Us" entry a few days back. Those were some of the earliest adventures in beta. But here are a few more memories that have no screencaps associated with them:

  • My first group was a pick-up one and lasted all of ten minutes. I remember one guy's name was Pantor(sp?), there was also a twi'lek. Can't remember the third. But working together with others online in a video game was just... indescribable.
  • My first noobish move was standing around outside asking someone about what that targetable shrub was. He said "It's a spawnpoint". I figure... "Better blow it up then.". So I open fire. I guess that just led to more and more (fill in some creature here) spawning. That lair never did burst.
  • I remember coming upon an Entertainer Trainer and learning Entertainer, just because hey... why not? I did the same with Medic. Cripes, I was a jack-of-all-trades.
  • I used to help out the local cantina entertainers by running around and getting the crap kicked out of me to build up fatigue, then return and watch them. They thought I was rich because I had 10k credits.
  • I remember a server crash in the middle of a "for fun" ID session with one of my entertainer friends. I logged back later to find myself fat and bald. Fortunately, she reverted me back. For Vincer, it's all about image!
  • I remember going absolutely bananas in combat against wave after wave of Tusken Raiders. I was getting better with pistols and put on a diving, rolling, leaping pistol clinic that left piles of dead Sandpeople at the end. A player nearby watched the whole thing and sent a tell to the extent of "Dammmmnnn".
  • I remember when "bleeding" was added to the game. It didn't work too well if you wore armor. In fact, it was deadly. Toons were dropping dead from bleeding all over the galaxy. I'd set up shop in the medical center to work on my healing and people would come running in begging for help!
  • I remember saving enough money to travel to Endor. Creatures were spawning in the starport and laying waste to everyone. After about 2 minutes, I came home.
  • I remember the first time I saw entertainer effects - some lightshow burst over the stage at the Lucky Despot. Everyone - including other entertainers - were going "What was that!?" "Whoa!"
  • I remember when you couldn't target a chair and sit down. One of my in-game friends taught me how to position my toon in front of a chair and type /sitserverchair. The toon would assume a sitting position to appear correctly seated. She and I may have been among the first in SWG to appear as sitting.
  • I remember when girl toons didn't sit so lady-like.
  • I remember when Twi'lek girls had human ears.
  • We all remember "ghosting". No fun.
  • I remember having the time of my gaming life.

Tomorrow, I'll get back on track with screencaps. But this should cover many of the big points of beta. We're quickly approaching Launch Day on Memory Lane.

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