In Part 1 of this article our guest blogger and activity forum user, FancyOwl introduced the bygone era that is Star Wars: Galaxies. In the second part of his article, he picks up right where he left off to delve more deeply into the RP opportunities the game offered.
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SWG had very simple mechanics and at the time I didn't really think much about them because they seemed so standard. But as time progressed and I played other MMOs that are out now, I definitely noticed their absence. For instance a trade command between players so that we can exchange items and money. A simple concept, but bears a great deal of weight when you start thinking about all the things that you can give someone that would carry a great amount of weight. Think of it as a trinket or a heirloom passed down to you by either your grandparents or one of your role models growing up. It can be as simple as a watch and you'd look upon it, assuming you had a great relationship with the person, with such reverence and love. You're greatly affected by just having this thing with you. The same can be said for your character and their relations ie a mentor, friend, lover, etc. For video game logic imagine The Legend of Zelda without this phrase, "It's dangerous to go alone. Take this!".
There's also the /duel command for you rp-pvp people. I couldn't imagine not having this command with me and having the option to brutally slap the living hell out of someone in rp back in SWG. But beyond battling enemies how about teaching someone to fend for themselves? Or teaching pvp mechanics in a IC manner. More than that how about having dueling tournaments with cash prizes. Suddenly more viable. Though I guess you could use dice rolls just as easily, there's something missing about using your skill to determine a fight . A lot of character development was had because of this whether it was when my character had to kill his own son to save complete strangers to him, or battling and helping an old enemy overcome his survivor's guilt and the crippling sadness of losing his comrades in a fight between the two factions.
Also the examine or character sheet command. This thing was the most beautiful thing I've seen in SWG and it's a crime that I haven't seen that thing again in today's MMO's (maybe it's in WoW I don't recall). It was basically just a command that you could use on anything you could target whether it's structures, people, NPC's, players, etc. It'd show you the stats of the item, the health of the structure and even some flavor text telling you a bit about the object. But in the case of player characters you could view their character sheet which was basically a text box they could type anything they wanted into. The best part I don't even think there was a limit to it. If there was, nobody ever reached it. People used this to type of biographies for their character, things people would notice, even use them as I.D. cards for inspections and such. Some used them to even for goofy things like making a text art portrait of pedobear, or Admiral Akbar, or a middle finger.
And all of these commands were accessible to us through ha simple radial menu that you could pull up by hovering your mouse or targeting recticle (whichever you preferred) over something and hitting the ~ key .
As far as character creation went there were not pre-selects for faces or anything, all you had were bars for everything (except hairstyles). And let me tell you there were bars for everything from the proportions of your body and face to muscle and fat (two different sliders entirely) and even torso and bust. The non human races even had extra sliders ie the Ithorians had a slider to determine how large their neck humps were, or the length and width of their trunks. Speaking of races there was quite a few to choose from in SWG and many of the the non-humans were very different and so alien from human such as the ithorians, mon calamari, wookiees, rodians and trandoshans. Best part was if you made a mistake or wanted to change something about your character's appearance later all you had to do was find a entertainer or in the older days a plastic surgeon, hairstylist, or a make-up artist (tips were appreciated) and they could change anything and even have more options than you did such was the case with the hairstyles. the only thing they couldn't change was the race. And for names - the only limit was they couldn't be canon star wars names, couldn't have derogatory language (not that it stopped them) and it'd have to be completely unique. In other words you couldn't have the same first and last name of another character, but what you could have was the same first name or the same last name.
Hell I miss being able to sit in a dang chair and even the option to fire a gun from standing, kneeling, or prone positions. Or even being able to crawl on the floor. And for Jedi your lightsaber choice wasn't restricted to a class or template. If you wanted a single-hilt then you crafted a single-hilt (one or 2 handed variations) and if you wanted a doubleblade then you crafted a doubleblade. And you had options as to the appearance too. And anything you crafted, you could also name for that extra little bit of personalization.
In the twilight of the game you could even fly your ships in atmospheric flight (flying in the sky of a planet) and even fly into outer space from that (though apparently it took awhile to reach that far). Best part was you could shoot at ground targets.
Naming mounts and riding the many fantastic beasts of Star Wars was also great fun as was the pet system all together ie beast mastery (raising a beast to maturity and teaching it commands like sit and lay down, etc). Speaking of vehicles being able to hop into the passenger seat of a friend's speeder and just going for a drive. And ships were customizable even if you didn't have a freighter/gunship ie POB ships, you could still have some fun by retexturing your ship (unless it was a TIE/Imperial ship) and giving it a new paint job. Want flames on your X-wing? No problem! I also miss manning the turret of a friend's Y-wing.
Looking back getting hopelessly lost with a group of friends in a speeder was some of the best moments in the game for me. Mainly just because of the comedy that resulted from having backseat drivers and people poke fun at my character's ability to get lost or find the most dangerous creatures if he ever drove anywhere.
Heck even doing missions in game could've be rp with the way they handled the NPC conversations with a player. They'd have a speech box over their head or next to them and you'd have a radial menu of replies. There were good replies, evil replies, funny replies, indifferent/neutral replies. There were evenjob specific such as the age old Jedi mind trick option. But if it was applicable your bounty hunter, smuggler and what not could also have flavored responses to them as well.
The storyteller system augmented things further by allowing us to create chronicler cubes to basically save drafts where you set up props, waypoints with flavored text to play when you reached them or after/during certain events like when you killed a creature. Best part was you could copy those cubes to make duplicates and give them out to friends. All they'd have to do was load them up with the proper tokens and activate them. But some of us found alternative uses for those cubes. One of the best achievements I made in that game, as I said, was creating a system for players to discovery their force sensitivity or learn about the force and Jedi culture by adding journals and using those cubes to tell them what they were seeing and how they felt and give them basically something of a roll table or an achievement table, if you will. You did all this stuff? Then you felt or noticed these things, etc. I even used them to create holocrons. The text fields in the descriptions of the cubes was limitless and I typed up novels of text teaching people about the Force and the many ideologies and combat forms with lightsabers, history, etc.
And the system also have us many neat tricks to further bring our characters to life. The key feature was the ventriloquism command which allowed us to have our NPC's say whatever we typed and however we wanted them to say it, even give them personalized emotes with those speech bubbles. Not to mention we could have them move forward, back, left, right to further give them that sense of life along with the old "set to wander mode" command. Because of these features many of the NPC's I made for storyteller events made reappearances that I did not intend. But sometimes characters just achieve a life all on their own.
And if you couldn't find a character to use among the many NPC tokens in the storyteller system or wanted to play as one of these creatures, then you also had holocostumes where you basically took on the guise of a creature or person such as a Hutt, Boba Fett, DarthVader, an IG-assassin droid, B-1/super battle droid, gungan, droideka and more. And some of them even had custom emotes such as the /sit or sleep command in the B-1 battle droid costume (you basically folded up as they did in the movies).
As far as the professions go, originally in the game there were 32 professions in all and I cannot even begin to remember what they all were. I just remember to fear the players that wore the Teras Kasi Masters, or Elder Jedi titles. But after the NGE there were only a few. I'll just keep it very short and to the point to save space.
Bounty Hunters - actually could hunt and collect bounties placed on players by players. Getting real sick of that one guy whose killing you always in PvP, put a bounty on his head so big he wouldn't ever be able to ever go near a civilized system. Plus being chased by them had a certain thrill about it. They'd be able to find you anywhere though with their seeker droids. Well almost anywhere. If you hid on a planet with a lot of life aka Kashyyyk and they used their droid they'd be given waypoints all over the planet. And trust me, there were plenty of places to hide on Kashyyyk.
Spy - could also go invisible and stay invisible. Aka the troll profession.
Medic - need I say more? Many people set up medic alts as buff bots in the medical centers in towns to give people free buffs. Tips were greatly appreciated.
Commando - the guy with all the fun toys. Didn't need to be a commando to use grenades, but they did have them as their skills .
Jedi - you had a light and a dark skill tree. Once very powerful and rare, became very common after NGE which upset a lot of people and were very much beaten to death with a nerf bat and imbalanced for a good while. But it was still viable, you just had to work a little harder at it. And you could even mix the trees though most didn't because they felt it was too weak. I think my guild was the only one to do that, but it was actually a lot of fun to do that. You'd have access to the light sides healing and tanking as well as the darksides brutal attacks ie force lighting and/or force choke, or even drain. The Jedi class in SWG gave me that feeling that I was a Jedi. Something that TOR unfortunately couldn't bring me, at least in the same way.
Officer - very rare class to find for some reason, but very handy. Call in orbital bombardments, give ridiculously good buffs and call in buff supply ships. Some people made buff bots with these folks, but they were definitely rare to find out and about.
Trader - the core of the player economy, they went out and got the raw resources, crafted everything from clothes, ships, droids, buildings, etc. And they could set up vendors in their houses from various races and droids, customize them as they saw fit, give them personalized speeches to say, name them and just fill up their stocks with prices. This is where people made malls.
Entertainer - the best profession of all. Everyone loved the entertainers and I mean everyone. This profession was entirely focused on group support and socializing. Everyone wanted to get an ent buff and you did that by watching them dance and play music. Many ents put on very nice shows while you did this too. Some even grouped up with each other to do band flourishes and it was fantastic. More than that they could buff anything and I mean anything.
Smuggler - very handy in groups and brutal pvpers surprisingly, but challenging to learn how to master. You didn't actually smuggle stuff sadly, but they were pretty well sought for dungeon/heroic encounters because a pistol or knife in their hands was very deadly.
I could go on and on about this game. But I think by now most of you are now clinically insane if you've made it this far. Star Wars Galaxies was simply put an amazing experience for everyone. It didn't matter how you felt about one update to the other, or how long you played the game - it always remained, in some essence, the same to the core. And it had an absolutely stellar community held together by the entertainers and our mutual love for Star Wars. Seriously who wouldn't want to play in the Star Wars universe? It's just one big giant grab bag of things to do and play as and SWG didn't limit us in any way really as to how we wanted to use those concepts.
If you played SWG and you want to talk about something that I didn't or just add to the above by all means do post. I'd personally love to hear what you have to say and even if you didn't. I'm interested in seeing what you have to say as well. If you really want to experience SWG now I'm glad to say that there are some decent emulators out there, but I can't tell you how they are personally since I don't play them. Other than that there's a let's player called supervaderman and he did a Let's Play of SWG and got a decent amount of it recorded before it was shut down. But no where near all of it though. Plus there are plenty of videos out there about SWG ie music videos, parody/funny videos and even decor of people's houses and ships. Sadly there were more at one point, but copyrights and such weeded out quite a few. The one I held onto the most though over the years was this one.