I was sad to find out that Star Wars Galaxies is being shut down in December. For me, the experience ended many years ago when a major design decision changed the game entirely, but I still feel an emptiness as I think about one of the greatest Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games shutting down. I do not type out the acronym for just any game. SWG earns the right to be called massive and role playing.
To pay homage to such a great game, I want to list what I have learned and taken away from SWG. In a sense, these are the things that have forever changed how I look at MMORPGs and attributes that would weigh heavily on me should I ever be in a position to orchestrate the design of such a game.
- Sandbox games do work.
- Let players live in the world and make it theirs: Player housing almost anywhere, harvesters gathering resources taking up space, and actual player shops created in actual player neighborhoods.
- You don’t need levels to make a great progression game.
- Being limited to just one character has major advantages.
- Crafting can and should be an exclusive way to play.
- The depth of Crafting in other games is only a drop in the bucket compared to what SWG showed me.
- Crafters are important to Combat classes.
- Shift the focus off the gear. Let it break forever. It’s just a blaster. You can get a new one. It’s how the game let you play with that blaster that mattered.
- Community comes first and being an active participant in the community should be an exclusive way to play via non-combat / non-crafting classes. Social classes matter. SWG covered all the bases.
- Giant monsters are fun to hunt. Having to form a hunting party and actually head out to search for elusive giant beasts is fun! After a long travel session, set up your tents and pull out the instruments while you await daylight.
- SWG’s original skill tree is what I would use in my MMORPG.
Now seems as good a time as any to thank everyone ever involved with Star Wars Galaxies for giving me years of enjoyment and the opportunity to take away so much from a single game. There are so few games that would ever give me cause to stop and reflect on such a level.
If it has been done before, it can be done again. That is the legacy that will live on. That is what drives my passion to make it happen.
Update: Raph Koster’s thoughts are worth reading.