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Role Playing (Games)

John Smedley Answers Your Questions 189

Posted by Zonk
from the senator-smed dept.
Last week we asked you for questions about the Star Wars Galaxies 'New Game Experience'. You responded, forcefully and often frustrated. Mr. Smedley has taken the time to answer some of the most thoughtfully put questions, and while some of his answers are brief he answered your questions straightforwardly and honestly. Many thanks to Mr. Smedley for taking the time to talk to us. Read on for his responses to your questions.
The latest "Freebies" by Yerase (636636)
You've recently announced that you plan to give Jump To Lightspeed to previous subscribers who had not purchased it for Free, since it is required for the new intro Tutorial. This is similar to the decision to release the "Total Experience" pack for $30 that included the original game, JTL, and the second expansion "Rage of the Wookies", with an additional item (The Barc Speeder). Do you feel you have any obligation to reimburse the veteran players who payed the premium prices ($30) for each of these expansions when they were first announced (many times before they were even released)? Either monetarily or through in-game items?

John Smedley:
It's common in the game industry to release new versions of games that incorporate older content. In this case, SWG really is much better with both the ground and space games as one package, which is why we're offering them together. We are giving rewards to our veteran players in general, but not specifically in this instance.

OS X client? by Dark Paladin (116525)
I realize that this is a long shot, but with the rise of Mac sales and the upcoming change of Macs from PPC to X86, is there a chance if an OS X client? One of the reasons I believe that Blizzards WoW has done so well is because it allows both major desktop OS's to play together, rather than trying to partition on group on a separate server (or pretending they don't even exist, with all of those dollars itching to be spent).

John Smedley:
Unfortunately, no. I absolutely love Macs (I've got 2 at home myself). I wish we could do this, but it's enormously cost prohibitive if you didn't start out from the beginning with Mac development in mind.

Wouldn't it be easier to scrap the game.. by Jason1729 (561790)
...and start over completely with Star Wars Galaxies 2?

John Smedley:
No. While the scope of the new enhancements is large, it's built upon a very powerful underlying engine that gives us the ability to enhance the game in meaningful ways rather quickly.

Re:Will this update...? by kebes (861706)
Given the recent bad press surrounding some of Sony's intrusive software, what changes, if any, are you planning for the copy-protection and cheat-prevention aspects of the game's software. During these change-overs, are you planning on putting in any special software that will monitor the users, and/or software that will attempt to prevent copying the game? Can you guarantee that such software will not "cross the line" and do things not directly related protecting the game itself?

John Smedley:
No. We are a subscription-based service, and therefore this isn't necessary.

Why wasn't NGE announced on 11/1? by WCMI92 (592436) NGE was dropped on us on 11/2, the day AFTER we were charged for the Trials of Obiwan expansion. Why did you deliberately withold this announcement until it was too late for veteran players to cancel their pre-orders so they could play on Test Center to see if they liked the changes?

John Smedley:
Simply put: We made a mistake in the way we communicated everything happening within the game to our current players, and we apologize for it. We're offering refunds to all players who purchased the Expansion pack before 11/3 (when we announced the NGE). But we feel very, very strongly that our current players are going to enjoy the enhancements to the game. The content in Trials of Obi Wan is even more fun with the new game experience.

Re:Another important question from a player by TychoCelchuuu (835690)
Why have you chosen to answer questions here on Slashdot instead of on the Star Wars: Galaxies forums? Many players are already fed up with the lack of communication, especially with these sweeping changes being announced the day after many of us bought Trials of Obi-Wan. Don't you have more of a responsibility to paying customers than you do to promoting the game?

John Smedley:
There are long threads that I've started myself on our forums, but we have community representatives that are answering questions diligently on our forums already, and I'm very involved in what's being said. I'm trying to get the word out in other venues and we know that Slashdot has a wide reach into the online gamer audience in general and the SWG community. Btw, I try to personally answer all of the emails from our players that are written to me and I get a fair number of them each day from our players.

Non-Combat Classes? by by Alpha_Traveller (685367)
Commando, Entertainer, Jedi, Medic, Officer, Smuggler, Spy and Trader.

What if my daughter wanted to be a diplomat? Something tells me that's not the same as Officer. You mentioned each class would show up as a familiar Icon, and I wouldn't call Princess Leia any of the things above. Only three out of the nine are even remotely "non-agressive" in nature. That doesn't speak well for a game that was once geared to be more of a world to explore than just a massive wargame.

[editor: How would you respond to this reader, concerned about the overwhelming shift in emphasis from sandbox-style world to combat-heavy 'game'?]

John Smedley:
This is a really good question, and I think goes to the heart of why we made these changes. The name "Star Wars" carries with it a lot of expectations, and from the research we've done, we weren't delivering enough of the core Star Wars experience to people. Remember, SWG takes place right in the middle of the Galactic Civil War! We felt like we needed to focus on the core iconic professions rather than 34 different professions that weren't unique enough. It just made the game too hard for us to add content to and to balance properly. We finally saw the forest from the trees on this and made the right move.

We still offer professions for non-combat oriented online players who are more interested in the social aspects of the game. We still have the Entertainer position (which is about as non-combat as you can get), as well as the trader class, which encompasses all aspects of crafting and item creation within the game. Additionally, we have made it so that non-combat professions do not agro within the game, so that players who do not choose to fight will be able to move about the game world without worrying about aggressive mobs.

Returning players? by Minupla
With the complete revamp of the game will there be a returning player incentive program? Something so that those of us who left earlier can come back with a minimum of pain and check out the rework and see if it's something that is compatible with our particular playstyles?

John Smedley:
Absolutely! We're going to be offering free trials for download (or at retail stores) in addition to the all-new Starter Pack.

Why not fix the game? by Zonk
Overwhelmingly, the jist of many questions we recieved was "Why do this instead of fix bugs and expand existing content?" What led to the decision to make such a drastic change in the game's playstyle, given that there was still a large population of players who were very happy playing Galaxies as it existed two weeks ago?

John Smedley:
We didn't feel that we could "fix" the existing game without making these changes to the number of professions. Trying to add content and balance a game with 34 different professions was just proving too difficult. We would spend weeks working on content specifically for one or two professions, but that would come at the cost of neglecting the other 30+. I think when we made the game we went too far into the direction of a "sandbox" style of gameplay, when what we needed to do was balance that out with awesome Star Wars gameplay that gives the player the feeling of being heroic.

We also had the very basic business problem of needing to appeal to a wider audience of players in order to keep the game growing rather than seeing the audience dwindle down over time. At the end of the day, our decision came down to wanting to make Star Wars Galaxies the most incredible Star Wars experience ever. Even though we know these changes will be upsetting some of our players initially, we feel that once they see how awesome we can make the Galactic Civil War, and how cool the new Star Wars content is they'll feel like we made the right decision at the end of the day.

All I can say is: try it before you pass judgement. If you are a current player, log in and check out the game. If you are a player who has tried the game and left because it was not delivering the experience, come back. If you're a gamer who has been on the fence because of what you've heard about the game previously, grab the free trial and jump in. We have a free 10 day trail available on the website (http://starwarsgalaxies.station.sony.com/), which can be converted to the full version of the game at the end of the trial period. I feel that the enhancements we've made to the game have made Star Wars Galaxies the game it was always meant to be.

See you on Tatooine!

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John Smedley Answers Your Questions

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  • Erm.... No. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) <`dylan' `at' `dylanbrams.com'> on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:50PM (#14045317) Homepage Journal
    I let SWG run my life for seven months. I became one of the most effective builders of Starships and Weapons on one of the biggest servers. (Ahazi)

    In the seven months I played there were two major game updates, both of which were reviled by the majority of the player base and touted as something wonderful by SOE. However, from commentary from both Lucasarts and SOE, it was highly apparent that the people in charge of this game were staring at WoW and thinking, "Star Wars is cooler than Warcraft, why aren't we rich?"

    Then they started to make it a clone of the Blizzard game. No matter how loud their player base screamed.

    The game is buggy, system-resource intensive, and the only reason I thought it was awesome was because of 1) the open 'jobs' style system, and 2) the incredible crafting system. Both of these things have been dumbed down in the NGE, from what I hear.

    Smedley's answers are all PR boilerplate and have nothing to do with the real reasons they are changing the game drastically. There are some incredibly cool things in the game still, (I once met a guy who had been playing since beta and loved that he could crawl through the grass and spy on people) but I consider the game fatally flawed by the people who run it not caring one bit about play experience- even as a means to the end of getting more subscribers. The entire design of the game is now based on, "This works for Blizzard, how can we copy it?" They don't seem to understand that you need a happy playerbase willing to bring their RL friends in, instead of an angry one that is embarassed about having gotten sucked into a huge marketing ploy and unable to desert their ingame friends.

    I would recommend to any of my friends that they run the other way from any SOE game. Period.
    Mothmar Friedsquid, former Ahazi Guru / Master Crafter.
    • Mothmar! I had several of your starship lasers. :) Your points exactly mirror my experience with the "combat revamp" and now the NGE. JTL kept me interested for awhile, but when I left I never looked back.

      Smiloo, former Ahazi Master Weaponsmith
    • Re:Erm.... No. (Score:2, Informative)

      by Kookus (653170)
      I got in beta and could see how poorly things were going from there, this really isn't a surprise at all. You were required (although I don't think they had a means of checking) to read a whole bunch of documentation before each test period, which only happened once a week or so. During that test session you would test something they've implemented and gave feedback + try to break it. So you'd fill out your forms and submit them. The problem was that they were ill-equiped to handle the actual testing period
    • by dcollins (135727) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:34PM (#14045724) Homepage
      "Star Wars is cooler than Warcraft, why aren't we rich?"

      I get the impression that's been the general thought process behind every Star Wars game ever made.
      • Jedi Outcast was great, and you can probably get it in the bargain bin now. Plus it'll run smooth like butter on current hardware.
    • Re:Erm.... No. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cnelzie (451984)
      The NGE took serious care of the system-resource-intensive issue.

      In the Old Game, I had to keep most of the graphics choices cranked to Zero to get consistent Frames Per Second performance, regardless of where I went. Even then, highly populated areas totally blew that down the tubes and gave me almost no FPS.

      In the NGE, I have been able to crank everything back up near the top again and I am obtaining VERY consistent FPS, regardless of where I am and how many people are in a
      • Re:Erm.... No. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Karzz1 (306015) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @02:15PM (#14046045) Homepage
        In the live version, none of those bugs are present and it just works very well.

        You have got to be kidding me. If it works so well, how come there are 55 pages of comments in the "issues" thread alone??? -- check it out [sony.com].

        You must be some kind of SOE apologist. And for the record, I have 2 toons on TC (TC2 and TC5) -- I cannot tell the difference between the "live" game and testcenter.
      • Re:Erm.... No. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fallen1 (230220) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @04:55PM (#14047559) Homepage
        In the Old Game, I had to keep most of the graphics choices cranked to Zero to get consistent Frames Per Second performance, regardless of where I went. Even then, highly populated areas totally blew that down the tubes and gave me almost no FPS.

        In the NGE, I have been able to crank everything back up near the top again and I am obtaining VERY consistent FPS, regardless of where I am and how many people are in a given area.

        Emphasis added.

        Yeah, the reason is THERE ARE NO MORE HIGHLY POPULATED AREAS. Period. Coronet - dead. Theed - dead. Dant Mining Outpost - almost dead. I'm on Intrepid which is one of the suggested started servers with what was a damn good player base and active population. I came back right before the NGE went into effect so I could test the changes live. They suck ass for a MMORPG. They're not bad for a First Person Shooter style game. Unfortunately, SWG was supposed to be a MMORPG with a complex story and background and *d'oh!* a complex game to go with it. Not a dumbed down, 8-year-old's wet dream FPS game. The overwhelming response to both the Combat Upgrade and now the NGE is negative.

        SOE knows the players are leaving in droves and have been since the CU. This is the death spiral of a once cool game (pre-CU and definitely pre-NGE). Everything has been dumbed down (especially crafting) and you now have no choice in creating a "unique" character. Period. A jedi is a jedi is a jedi. A smuggler is a smuggler is a smuggler. And so on right down the line of, what was it?, "Nine iconic 'professions'". Pleaaaaaaase. Smedley and SOE need an icon up their ass for destroying the entire SWG: An Empire Divided experience.

    • Re:Erm.... No. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:42PM (#14045798)
      Yep. I quit Galaxies long ago but for the same basic reasons. I mean the game design was some of the best I'd ever seen. I loved the job based system, and when cities came out, I was ecstatic. For once in a game, there was real, useful, housing over some place just to store your shit. For once players could have a real impact on the game environment.

      However the devil is in the details and the problem was in the implementation. Sony just seemed to work as hard as they could to screw everything up. Here were the big ones for me:

      1) The patching system. They would issue patch after patch fixing game bugs. After a string of these, the game was up to a pretty good state, not perfect but free of major problems. Then a new patch would come out that introduced new content and everything broke again. It was as if they were basing it off of old code or something. This cycle just repeated over and over. I got sick of things being broke all the time.

      2) The removal of cool features to fix stupid problems. For example, when player-run cities came about there was the concept of a militia. The militia was appointed and could exert control over the city. Milita members could tell you to leave, and if you didn't, flag you as attackable by all milita, and they could then shoot you. It was nice, gave you direct control over your city. Ok but someone found a way to exploit it to gain experience. No big deal, experience was easy to come by, but instantly Sony removed it and it never came back while I was playing. So now jackasses would run all over your city being jerks, and there was nothing you could do. However...

      3) Refusal to deal with real problems. While they were removing cool features for non-issues, they'd never crack down on real cheating. People were creating insanely powerful cheat weapons and armour. Rather than just deleting all of it and banning the offenders they took forever to straighten things out, and didn't really do anything.

      The event that was one of the big ones that pushed me to quit was when the military bases in our cities were assulted by a cheater guild. We mounted a defence, and a big one (we were the largest Alliance guild on the server). However all our efforts were futile, we couldn't damage them, and they'd kill us instantly. Now amazingly enough we got a hold of a Sony CSR, he came out, observed what was happening and interviened. He told them they were cheating and their accounts had been marked, anything further, they'd be banned.

      So of course you know where this goes. An hour later they were back at it again. We managed to get a hold of the same CSR and he came back. We figured great, banned cheaters. Nope, he did NOTHING. He scolded them a bit and hemmed and hawed, but no ban. So, of course, they now figured they could do as they please, no repercussions.

      4) Total lack of balancing. Sony was always tweaking the class dynamics, but what it really got down to was there was no balance of combat classes. It wasn't too hard to design a tactic that was essentially unstoppable For things like taking out a military base. I never saw it get any beter in all my time there.

      So, now I play WoW. I personally don't think it's as well designed a game as Galaxies. It's well designed, don't get me wrong, but not as good. However the important part is it's well implemented. The game works well, and feels balanced. That's what really matters. You can plan and plan all you like, it's implementation that ultimately matters, and THAT'S what Blizzard does right.

      Personally, I don't trust Sony to be able to replicate it.
      • Re:Erm.... No. (Score:2, Informative)

        by doorbot.com (184378)
        I wouldn't say SOE was trying to screw up the game, it just seems like they had three problems:

        1. Poor QA
        2. Poor change control
        3. A lack of time/ability to polish their product.

        I certainly agree that their design was good but the implementation was flawed.

        The perfect example of this was the "Test Center" servers. Publicly, SOE asked the players to test the upcoming publishes on these servers. There were plenty of bugs of course, but this is a "test" server so to a degree one might expect that. A lot of the
    • "Then they started to make it a clone of the Blizzard game. No matter how loud their player base screamed."

      Funny, WoW delivers an experience that feels more like classic Star Wars pulp action that Star Wars Galaxies does (or possibly, did).
    • by sterno (16320) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @02:30PM (#14046181) Homepage
      They don't seem to understand that you need a happy playerbase willing to bring their RL friends in, instead of an angry one that is embarassed about having gotten sucked into a huge marketing ploy and unable to desert their ingame friends.

      This is such a critical thing and I think SOE has failed at this in more than one of their games. I've been a loyal player of PlanetSide since it came out and I ran into this exact problem. Initially the game was so buggy I found it very hard to recommend it to anybody. Eventually some of the kinks got worked out and so I got a friend to play. He ran into a bunch of bugs, got lousy technical support, and ended up leaving the game within a week of starting.

      The other problem I've run into with this game is that the hardware demands are so insane that many of my friends with older rigs just don't have what it takes to run it. I've got a P4 2.8, 6600GT, 2GB of Ram, a Raptor HD and I run it on a medium graphics settings and it's pretty playable but I still get slow downs in heavy battles. I'm running it on hardware that did not exist when the game was released and on medium setting it performs merely okay. That's tragic. So when I've got a friend with a slightly older graphics card and a sub 2Ghz system, it's rather difficult for me to recommend it to them.

      I've got a lot of friends that I think would totally love the game play, but if their experience is going to be one of low framerates and crashes, I'd be rather embarassed to recommend it to them. Thus the average person hasn't even heard of PlanetSide. Whenever I describe the game to somebody they think it sounds really cool, but they never heard of it because the game got such a bad reputation at release.

      So, SOE, if you want these games to have long term success, release them when they are ready, and release games that will run smoothly on average modern hardware. Sure you can have bells and whistles that will take advantage of the top of the line systems, but make it so it's playable by lower hardware. The time you spend on getting the kinks worked out and the performance issues resolve will be made up for in spades when you can get a game with a strong following for years to follow.
      • You would think some of these software/game designers were in bed with hardware companies. Man, did you see the minimum requirements on Quake 4?! "Hello mr.bank officer, can I get a lean on my house? id came out with a new game..."

        Mod parent up.
    • HAY FriedSquid! I remember you :-p

      > I became one of the most effective builders of Starships and Weapons on one of the biggest servers.

      His was the one ship shop I'd send people to ^^;

      I think he was one of the top 4 ship shops on Ahazi.
  • Thank You (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Krast0r (843081) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:50PM (#14045319) Homepage Journal
    "Simply put: We made a mistake..." - not something we are hearing often enough from some companies recently, not naming any names.
    • The game was cheap and the on-line pay-to-play fee was not unreasonable, which is why my gaming clan purchased it the first place. However, due to the "bugs" and some of the changes made to game, we soon got frustrated and have moved on to other games. Since we were "one of the violent mobs" he mentions, many of the changes were directed at us and others like us specifically. While we had been hoping for some serious "cops and robbers" kind of action between our mob of raiders and what ever passes for la
      • by merreborn (853723) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:59PM (#14045939) Journal
        Since we were "one of the violent mobs" he mentions, many of the changes were directed at us and others like us specifically

        I think you've misunderstood some old MUD lingo. The only use of the term "mob" in TFA is:

        Additionally, we have made it so that non-combat professions do not agro within the game, so that players who do not choose to fight will be able to move about the game world without worrying about aggressive mobs.

        Wikipedia's definition of this type of "Mob":

        A mob is a non-player character (NPC) or monster in a computer role-playing game (especially MUDs and MMORPGs). It is widely accepted as being short for mobile object or simply mobile, stemming from its use in the earliest text-based MUDs, and is commonly written either mob or MOB (the latter more often considered an acronym of Movable Object Block, a term for any on-screen moving object, or sprite)

        Long story short, they're saying Bantha's won't attack your Dancer, no matter how close you walk to them now. They weren't talking about player killers.
    • Ironically, if I were to name names, the first one that comes to mind is Sony and their disastrously anti-consumer copy protection system. Star Wars Galaxies is MADE by Sony, albeit a different division. This is what we call "black humor."
  • Not far enough (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the computer guy nex (916959) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @12:55PM (#14045377)
    "Absolutely! We're going to be offering free trials for download (or at retail stores) in addition to the all-new Starter Pack. "

    I am a former long-time SWG customer (6+ months). There were many broken promises within that timeframe. I have no motivation as a former customer to seek out a free trial and attempt to become 'addicted' again.

    Sony needs to pony up and offer an economic incentive to resubscribe. Free month for former subscribers, half-price 3 month subscription, etc.

    A short trial isn't enough to bring unhappy customers back.
    • Try 2 years and 5 months.

          That's how long I have been playing and in that time the game has grown by leaps and bounds. I like the Combat Upgrade change, but I love the NGE change even more.

          Star Wars Galaxies is going to keep getting better, but if MMORPGs aren't your thing, then they aren't your thing.
      • I'm in the same boat. I took the day off on launch day to play and suffered through all of the subscription issues at launch. I played a class that was ignored until just before the NGE updates (Ranger) and think that with some GUI tweaks the NGE will be the most enjoyable version of SWG yet, even with my class blinking out of existence.
  • He actually answered the hard hitting questions pretty straight forward, AND admitted their mistakes!

    Although I'm a little confused by his answer to responding to questions on the forums. If he had responded, and they had community reps who WERE diligent, why would people be complaining about it to the degree they are and in the numbers they are?

    • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Funny)

      by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:10PM (#14045494) Journal
      <jedi hand wave>"There are no unhappy neglected customers on the forum</jedi hand wave.">
      "Whaddya talkin' about, there are TONS of neglected unhappy customers on the forum!"

      Apparently Jedi mind tricks don't work reliably on SlashHutts.

    • Re:Amazing (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CoderBob (858156)

      why would people be complaining about it to the degree they are and in the numbers they are?

      Because 94.53% (Pulled from OutOfMyAss.com) of the people on MMORPG forums are people who are obsessed with seeing their words on the forum and bitch no matter what happens. For every person they make happy, they piss off someone else.

      The people who are happy won't be on the forums bitching, so it skews the numbers: if 123/150 people on a forum, say, are complaining, that looks bad. If 123/12348 people that ar

      • Add all this up with the entitlement that many MMORPG players feel they deserve, and you get a bunch of people bitching about everything, tying up the reps time, and making getting anything accomplished that much more difficult.

        Yeah, the impression I'm getting is that Sony has realized that the number of people who liked the old version of the game was very small. Those people liked it a lot, but there weren't enough of them to make it profitable to dump a bunch of money into making that model work.

        So they
    • "He actually answered the hard hitting questions pretty straight forward, AND admitted their mistakes!"

      Given the recent bad press surrounding some of Sony's intrusive software, what changes, if any, are you planning for the copy-protection and cheat-prevention aspects of the game's software. During these change-overs, are you planning on putting in any special software that will monitor the users, and/or software that will attempt to prevent copying the game? Can you guarantee that such software will not

      • Sony is a large multinational and technically speaking one company.

        Having said this to think of it as such would be a huge mistake. In any company that size the link between divisions is tenuous to say the least. And they really should be thought of as different companies.

        Before the current thing one of the best examples was the disconnect between their movie division and their hardware division. Even as the movie division was making noises about region coding their hardware division was selling what, at t
      • Doesn't sound like a straight-forward response to me. He only partially answered the question, and not the part that anyone cared about!

        Question: During these change-overs, are you planning on putting in any special software that will monitor the users, and/or software that will attempt to prevent copying the game?

        Answer: No.

        Question: Can you guarantee that such software will not "cross the line" and do things not directly related protecting the game itself?

        Implied Answer: Since we're not putting in any spe
        • You read a LOT into that answer. The way I read it, he stated that copy-protection methods were unnecessary due to the subscription nature of the game. He completely (and rightly) ignored the entire rest of the question. I can't blame him, it's really not his place to say, but at the same time, praising him for being so open when he completely ignores a question is a bit silly.
    • I would hardly call those answers. He gave PR responses.

      Sony had one of the biggest names to draw upon, much like Blizzard did with Warcraft. With new Star Wars movies coming out, SW:G could have been king of the world. The fact that it isn't speaks volumes about the quality of the game. The bottom line is that SW:G just wasn't that much fun to play.

      Now, if they make it actually fun, how many folks are going to go back, or play the trial? Not a whole heck of a lot. They are all playing WoW, or waiting
  • Ugh, this is utterly ridiculous. I played SWG for about 6 months from release and in that the playing experience quickly went downhill with every new "upgrade" that sony came up with. I currently play on one of the many free Lineage 2 servers and the play experience only gets better with time. This is more than likely due to the admin staff having to keep the player base happy in order to survive on donations and perhaps make a little coin to boot. It's amazing what kind of gaming experience you can get whe
  • smedly is an idiot. the game is going down in flames. the only good thing you will read anywhere are by soe employees posting them. jedi is broken, you must buy the new expansion to level, there are no quests for characters > level 30.

    the new targeting system is a crack monkey's idea of a joke. read the forums and see the death of swg. i was there from launch in 03, and canceled my accounts today.

    the game is dead
  • Woa when I played SWG( Launch) there wasnt any levels...when did this happen? It was all XP based per-skill. I might give it a go, becuase im EFFIN tired of DAOC :( ...can't get groups and theres no social community in place to make new friends... Looking forward to darkandlight, and itl ooks like settlers of garaneth will come out on the 17th
    • With the first Combat Upgrade, SOE introduced the concept of levels to SWG. It was a combat level, not an experience level. CLs ranged from 1 - 80. CLs were determined by the professions you progressed through and was a fairly accurate rating of your ability to kill mobs.

      The NGE maintained the level concept but it is more straight-forward now. There are only 9 professions, instead of 34. Like other MMOs, your profession is set once chosen and there are defined experience levels to progress through. At c
      • yikes. I saw that CH was going away...scarey... I was gona be a CH Smuggler originally...got to the highest CH before i quit
    • Oh, this happened about three days ago.
  • by Viper Daimao (911947) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:20PM (#14045589) Journal
    can I shoot Greedo first?
    • For the most part, you have to.

      It's "bad" that Han shoot first, yet this game is loaded with people going out looking for people to shoot first. Yes, you could be lame and wait for them to start running at you, but realistically, you shoot when they're still just standing there.

      I played for a good 6-8 months as a dancer/pistoleer. Yeah, pistoleer sucked, but I wasn't in it for the combat, anyway. Eventually the dancing got tired (loved the outfits, too!) and left. This was two months after the Jump to L
  • And although it's a little late to be asking this now, what's with the Flash 8 crap on the new website?

    You guys at SOE allergic to HTML or something?

    For another interesting experience, why do the forums at http://forums.station.sony.com/swg [sony.com] report a "server error" when you try to read them on Mozilla (with or without Javascript, with or without cookies), but work fine on IE?

  • Usual SOE SWG speak (Score:4, Interesting)

    by portwojc (201398) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:27PM (#14045663) Homepage
    Everything is " fine " come back you'll like it...

    Simply put: We made a mistake in the way we communicated everything happening within the game to our current players, and we apologize for it.

    Translation. They had the CU go into place just before Rage of the Wookies. I canceled my expansion and I'm sure others did too. Now they learned. Hold out till after the latest round of extra dough comes in. Then turn the game upside down.

    I'll come back only when SOE isn't in charge of it. It's funny the rest of us can see it they just can't.

    Oh by the way SOE if you hadn't released the game 6-12 months early you wouldn't be in this mess right now. Everyone else takes a step back to do it right and look what they have.

    • Give them a fucking break. The game came out in the early days of MMORPGs and they bit off more than they could chew at the time. There isn't a single MMO right now that isn't plagued with problems, but the early ones (UO, SWG, AO) all had the uphill battle of defining the genre. SWG, while I haven't even played it (yet), seems to have tried to offer an experience that was much larger and more involved than any of the others at its time.

      Given that they've had an attrition of players due to some misma

      • MMORPGS are not 'Groundbreaking'

        They are not the newest thing on the planet.

        There have been MUD's with the size playerbases these people are dealing with for over a decade.

        The graphics are different, the positional and timing stuff is harder, but it's all been there, all been running, all been through this same kind of stuff. Playing SWG I occasionally thought, "Jesus, didn't these guys ever play any Tsunami? I've seen these jerks and the stupid tricks they pull a million times." It's just an up
  • Two Years Here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ddx Christ (907967) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:43PM (#14045809) Homepage

    This guy is just talking out of his ass. The only way to describe Star Wars Galaxies is perhaps through an overnight liquid culture of e.coli. It started off buggy and lacking content, then shot up exponentially over the next few months. These were times when I had the greatest amount of fun and I eventually reached that "alpha-class" of Jedi. That was fun too. But definitely not the highest point. It was much more fun to group with a bunch of buddies, go out into the middle of nowhere and discover something new. "Hey look, a cave!" and there'd be a whole area full of droids in the middle of what was a desert.

    After the Jump To Lightspeed expansion, all subsequent expansions started looking more and more like money-making schemes that provided little to no content. ToOW was just to have a large renewal of subscriptions and to lock in players for the NGE. He is not sorry. He knows only the most furious customers will actually seek and attain a refund; others will be locked in from uncertainty.

    I'm sorry but there just isn't an excuse for changing the game overnight aside from making it a dumbed down version to port over to consoles. After the "combat upgrade" SWG just started to follow a cookie-cutter path until the eventual complete and utter downfall: NGE. They took all the unique aspects out of the game and made it SUCK because they have no idea what they're doing and most of all they fail to listen to their unhappy customers (these changes negatively affected gameplay).

    I will never recommend a game by SOE. A Christmas or two ago I would have said it was the best MMORPG I've played. Now I'm looking for a new home, possibly DnL. Good thing the NGE came, though. Now I can finish these college applications.
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:49PM (#14045852) Homepage
    From the people who brought you the Star Wars Holiday Special [bluntproductions.com] - Rage of The Wookies!

    We'll be back with "The Return of Jar-Jar" after these messages.

  • by Om (5281) * on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @01:51PM (#14045885)


    I went back to SWG after having played it when it came out. The cities were bustling with people. Theed was truly a hang out. I remember walking into the tavern, and there would be so many people dancing, playing instruments, giving table dances, etc, that you couldn't even find a seat.

    I went back a few months ago, and saw that everywhere was a ghost town. It was flat out sad. The taverns were empty, save for a few NPC. The city streets were deserted. I stood in front of the once bustling Starport in Theed and could hear my own voice echoing across the pavement.

    The problem now is that the servers need to merge. Plain and simple. The problem that Sony faces, is that the design of the game prohibits this. When a game dwindles in population, merging servers is the only way to cluster the remaining people back together so they can actually feel like they are playing an MMOG. Sony, however, cannot do this easily. With the (awesome) ability to place your own house anywhere, and create your own player-made cities, this brings to the front an entirely unique problem.

    If you merge servers, what do you do about the cities that overlap? What about people's houses? Who's house takes precidence? Should we just convert everyone's property into items in their bank and have them start all over? Would this piss anyone off?

    So yeah, SWG is in deperate need to merge their player base! If they can figure out a way to cut their servers by half (at least), and get people back together (and i'm not talking just together in one particular city), then I'll definitely give it another shot. As it stands now, it's just a sad place to run around in.

    ++Om

  • Impressed (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This is one of the least 'marketing oriented' responses I think I've seen from a game company in a long time (if you take into consideration the dribble we normally see from game companies, particularly online games).

    I can understand where some of the existing players would be upset by the changes, but you have to admit something had to be wrong with the game. Star Wars is one of the most well known IP's in the world, and just the game's player base hovers at around 250k, a fraction of the subscribers of th
  • by Ahmunhotep (931568)
    John Smedley:
    There are long threads that I've started myself on our forums, but we have community representatives that are answering questions diligently on our forums already, and I'm very involved in what's being said. I'm trying to get the word out in other venues and we know that Slashdot has a wide reach into the online gamer audience in general and the SWG community. Btw, I try to personally answer all of the emails from our players that are written to me and I get a fair number of them each day fr
    • CU made a lot of classes "redundant". They're now cleaning up that redundancy.
    • I suggest you go to sites who have reviewed SWG post NGE, or better yet come and visit the Official SWG forums. There you will find out how much we "love" the NGE. Sure there are the usual SoE fanboys but I think you will find the comments overwhelingly negative.

      What makes you think that messageboards are representative of the majority of players? For all we know, the people complaining on the forums might just be a vocal minority whilst the silent majority just get on with playing the game.
  • I've played more than a healthy amount of SOE games (EQ, EQ2, PlanetSide, SWG). Among all of these titles, SOE has consistently contradicted themselves through changes that go against their previous "philosophy" of the game's design. However, nothing even compares to this new SWG change. I played it last night, and it is the most bizarre thing I have ever encountered in a MMO. Upon logging into my character, I was asked to select an "iconic" Star Wars class, based off of popular characters--each class with
  • Been playing for almost two and a half years... crafter, merchant. I loved this game. It captured my attention and kept it. Since the CU I have played less and less. Most of my friends have quit. I logged in to play yesterday and spent a significant part of the session just trying to learn how to do simple stuff. The new interface sucks and is, as someone previously mentioned, obviously dumbed down for a console port. I expect a "surprise" announcement soon or in conjunction with PS3 launch. They hav
  • by Lord Kaio (687564) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @02:36PM (#14046259)
    I played Galaxies for over a year since it's initial launch and I was pleased that it seemed to be moving in the right direction from the start. At the beginning there was nothing, lots of open ground, not much to do, so many bugs and it was almost all on foot. I have to give them credit though because alot of the server related bugs were cleared up, they added in Player Cities, Creature Mounts, Vehicles, tons of items for in your house and some minor quest materials. I was more than happy just hanging out with my friends in game, flying around on a planet, just watching a family of Rancors from the top of a hill. It felt nice not having to worry about levels like many other MMO's. I was working on a Creature Handler/Pistoleer/Medic template so I could have a pet tank for me while being able to damage from range all the while healing myself and my pet. It was a great solo template...keyword being was.

    Then the changes started happening. The biggest change was that they rushed the Jedi making experience out into the world. When we all first started, there was no guide on how to make your character into a Jedi. Sure there were tons of theories, but none were proven true. Then finally, one person came forth and had ascended into being a Jedi. While I'd like to think that it's just coincidence, I doubt that the whole Jedi path was being independently explored at the same time and finished within days of each other on other servers. Soon enough, word was out that if you mastered 5 (I think it was 5 at the time) of the professions that were randomly determined for you at character creation, you could become a Jedi as well. Thus, the grind began. The numbers of players never seemed higher, but the number of people truly "playing" dropped incredibly. People were taking advantage of the macro system to master the social classes in hours. Cantinas were filled with AFK dancers and musicians spamming their specials. Crafters were flooding the Bazaars (think auction houses in data terminal style) with goods that they were making in mass quantities to fly through a profession. Harvesters were everywhere, houses went up for storage more than anything else. This led to an economic collapse, driving most of the "true" crafters to close up shop and leave since the market was flooded with cheap mass produced goods that kept prices low.

    Instead of trying to slow this influx of people trying to become Jedi, SOE decided to help everyone by revealing that Holocrons (rare drops in game) could be used to tell you the next profession you need to master. So holocron prices jumped into the millions of credits and "Holo-grinding" was born. To make matters worse, for Christmas, everyone received at LEAST 2 holocrons, some somehow managed to get 4 (single character per server, so no alts sharing holos). There were crafty people though that would use an alt on another server to trade to someone to get their alt's holos on their main server. Everything focused on the holos and the quest to be a jedi.

    Well, if you don't know already, it worked, Jedi started popping up everywhere. While most people thought that a Jedi should be a hermit and secretive, you'd see them walk into crowded cantinas and pull out their lightsaber to the "Oooo's" and "Aaah's" of the crowd. Most people pushed for massive experience loss on Jedi Death, or even Permadeath (i.e. start your jedi from padawan). What did the Jedi's get punished with? Item decay like the rest of us in the long run, and with this new patch, nothing.

    Now that Jedi are covered, lets talk about PvP. Galaxies always felt like it needed PvP, Imperials vs. Rebels is the perfect backdrop when racial and class differences are the same on either side of the fence. The problem was that classes weren't balanced at all. A Teras Kasi Artist (Think Monk from EQ) could go into a den of Rancors and emerge unscathed carrying a full pack of Rancor teeth and hide. My lowly Creature Handler/Pistoleer/Medic template let me take on one at a time, but I'd be ripped a new
    • That was a great historical account of the game from a person who sounds quite reasonable, level-headed, and into Star Wars. I hope Smedley read this. You sound like the ideal, long-term player that you'd imagine MMO's should want more than any other. If SWG can't keep a decent gamer like you around and willing to pay for their product, they are running on borrowed time.
    • I started shortly after they introduced vehicles and played for a LONG time due to the diversity and not being stuck playing a single class/function/profession. It was pretty good and would have been great IF SOE HAD FIXED THE DAMN BUGS and then ACTUALLY BALANCED THE CLASSES. Hmm, make it so every profession could not wear composite armor. Oh, yeah, and one little easy fix - let everyone be able to heal mind to some extent.

      The parent poster has a really good timeline and grasp on the situation so please mod
  • John S. should be fearful, because nothing in the internet is as fearsome as the wrath of a bitter MMORPG nerd!!!!!!!! These guys are bunch of super pissed-off dudes! Messing with them is like stirring up a hornets nest. It's just isn't a good idea.
  • I've seen the game go down hill. SWG has always had potential, SOE is just to stupid to realize how to handle it. The CU fixed a lot of the issues w/ the game while creating alot of issues in the process(OMG, what a suprise!). Now, the game is just plain crappy. What the first poster said is correct. This is nothing more then PR bullcrap. We've seen this so many times in the past, it means nothing now. Keep on trying SOE, you'll all be out of a job in 2 months anyways. Slash on Gorath Account expires in 2
  • If you don't want to answer why don't you just say no - ooh right, that would require integrity.
    • Well, as for me the answers were very nice.

      Conversion from Official to Nerd:

      Freebies? Yes, we do. That's nothing special, just happens.
      OS X? Sorry, too expensive.
      Start over? And discard perfectly good engine, no.
      DRM? Won't do.
      Late announcement? We screwed royally, we'll try to fix as far as we can. Not a thing you hear from marketoid!
      Why /. not forums? But we do forums too! (and the aforementioned screwup would be just the same)
      Few non-violent classes? Fuck you, we want the game to be fun, not to force play
  • I bought SWG when it first came out, and seriously (40+ hours a week) played it for over a year. With each new 'change' that Sony enacted, they would add 1 or 2 'neat' things, but remove just as many if not more. Through out the time that I played, the communication to the player base was beyond horrible. I remember 3-4 day waits on in-game customer service tickets, including being stuck in geometry and missing items from known bugs.

    Still, there was the call of the 'jedi' that kept me playing. At first,
  • I'm not big into massive rpgs, but I've been an avid star wars fan and gamer for about 10 years. The tragegdy of the prequel trilogy was off-putting, but there are still plenty of cool star wars experiences if you ignore the new movies (I'll admit EP3 was pretty decent) Anyone who is into RPGs should definately checkout knights of the old republic 1, it has an incredible story.

    I started playing SWG. I built up my character from 0 to master smuggler. Then as it turned out, master smuggler sucked, so I we
  • John Smedley: There are long threads that I've started myself on our forums...

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v464/Jhazmin/SWG /smedlylies.jpg/ [photobucket.com] You disgust me, Smedly. You are no Star Wars fan. ("Jedis." "What is a pikeman, and why is it in SWG?") Have you EVER watched the movies?

    You don't know what players want. I do not know a single player that ever said "i think there are too many confusing professions." I defy you to EVER find such an example. These changes have little to do with the what the p

  • Every game I've tried from SOE has been buggy, incomplete and not well planned. And to top it all off...they stole $45 subscription fees from me. I played EQII for several months hoping the game would be EQI but with more and better content. I have to admit I liked a good portion of EQII but quickly came to realize it paled in comparison to World of Warcraft. I canceled my EQII account using SOE's webpage. I went through all the steps even answered their "Why are quitting questions?" (Just to tell them thei
    • Every game I've tried from SOE has been buggy...I played EQII for several months hoping the game would be EQI

      Not to be a dick but I have a couple of questions...

      Why did you stop playing EQI in the first place if you hoped that a new game would be just like it? EQI is still very much alive from my understanding.

      Secondly, if every game from SOE has been buggy why would you want more of the same that you doubtlessly experienced in EQI, as it is a SOE game?

      SW Galaxies never seemed like too hot of a game of
  • by dbx501 (931606)
    Check out Mr. Smedley's SWG Forum account. He actually posted ONE LOSY statement and that was when the first CU was about to go live. What a fucking liar
  • The EQ perspective (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @04:50PM (#14047526)
    As a consumer of another of Sony's game (the only sony product I use, and I'm not paying for it- part of my general Sony boycott due to an incredibly rude CS experience)...

    1) Smedley has been like this since he appeared as a giant gnome. He always talks straight but nothing happens as fast as you think it will and somethings never happen.

    2) Anything that is "awesome" is going to get nerfed.

    3) They rarely ban anyone.

    4) GM's have no real authority.

    5) What do you expect for $13 a month...

    6) Someday the servers -will- shut down (It sucked in Earth & Beyond (EA game- first mmorg I know of shut down- I won't buy an EA game again since we had about 8k players ($80k a month) and they wouldn't even leave a frozen copy up and running.

    7) EQ -never ever- did things until it started losing players- then it mimiced like crazy. I argued with Brad on the old petition board for things that never happened- including the current trade interface. Then when DAoC came out with it and EQ numbers dropped, they moved on it fast.

    Bottom line...
    They think the players are delusional, self-centered and/or idiots. They will quickly mimic proven success.

    If they do with SW what they did with EQ1, it will eventually be fun to play again with most of the rough edges worn off so quit paying but don't delete your characters.

    But it is an ENTERTAINMENT not a life. Don't give up your job, spouse, children, etc. just because it's fun because it is 100% certain to abandon you (by being shut down) within the next 5-10 years max- probably sooner.
  • Memo to SOE (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lewp (95638) * on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @06:02PM (#14048108) Journal
    Get out of the MMORPG business. You can't handle it.

    The problem with making an MMORPG is that most people only play one. Companies that are incapable of making an outstanding game -- like SOE -- can rest easy making regular PC or console titles, since truly awesome games are rare and they just have to compete with other mediocre companies on a marketing basis in an attempt to get a place in a larger shopping cart.

    With MMORPGs things are different. One good one can come out and completely ruin the market for five years by locking up your potential audience. If these people have time for another MMORPG, they just play more of the one they already have.

    Thus, if you really want to be successful in the MMORPG space, you need to make amazing, genre-defining games that are either so much better than the competition that people are willing to give up weeks/months/years building characters to switch, or that bring in players to the MMORPG space who wouldn't have played otherwise.

    SOE, your best days in this market are behind you. You had the lead, with EQ, and you blew it. EQ2 is awful, SWG was (and probably still is, I'm reserving judgement to be fair) awful, Planetside didn't really make anything of itself, and you've got nothing better coming down the pipe. Get out, let Blizzard play the 800lb gorilla (which is what they are now, not you), and let smaller companies with better reputations and the ability to innovate try to topple them.

    You guys... just get jobs you're actually good at.

    Love,

    A concerned citizen
  • But the reality is otherwise. SOE has the worst track record of communicating with their customers, worse even that Verant (the original developer for Everquest). Verant at least never communicated at all, whereas SOE prefers to lie outright to their customers in order to suck a few more dollars from their wallets.

    As for Smedley's vaunted threads - no one was able to find any posts by him beyond the first one he made introducing himself. Unless he has been posting under some Alias - probably to try to make
  • The guy can't open his mouth without almost literally crapping from it.

    He never posts anything to the message boards other than a once-in-a-while long marketspeak bullshit.

  • I should probably be emailing this to John, but maybe he'll read it here. :)

    I think SOE deserves some applause for doing this. If my research has told me anything, it's that it's very difficult for a MMOG to vastly grow their userbase after they've reached the "maturity" and gotten their initial core audience. Yes, churn keeps new people coming in, but people are also going out, and as time goes on, those numbers eventually start to dwindle. I don't think any MMOG, no matter how much you update it, can s

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