MMORPG has a link to a piece talking about the second grand – expansion, content update – whatever, to SWTOR, entitled Galactic Starfighter.
The TL; DR version is that while 12v12 matches in space seems like it might be a fun little PvP minigame, its not up to snuff with SWG’s Jump To Lightspeed expansion, and that is, in the eyes of the author, and okay thing. So, a little shining star of an update right?
However, the opening comment on the article steals the thunder and takes the cake:
Long, long ago, in a gaming genre close to our hearts…there was a developer called Sony. Most people loved Sony, because it brought them good things. Epic fantasy, fun online with friends, outlets for their creativity, and yes, even Star Wars.
Still, there were those who were cautious. They noticed a…well, let’s call it a bad habit. Sony had this tendency towards a roving eye. They did not always dance with the one that brought them, but were constantly wooing others – newer and younger faces. The solidly practical ones noted that this was good business practice, and nothing to be frowned on. After all, you were already a fan, but more fans would make things better for everyone. But others were worried about the underlying thought process.
But things were good for a time, and mostly the warnings and nervousness were swept under a rug of placidity and contentedness over the content available. And then…it all came crashing down. The chase, the desire for more and more people, had led Sony so far away from its devoted followers that they simply left. Suddenly all those veterans who the business experts said they could never alienate because they were already fans – were alienated. Sony, of course, learned their lessons and took their lumps. These days, veterancy, investment, in their games and system is rewarded, not ignored.
Fast forward to 2011. Bioware offer us the next Star Wars MMO. And they have a policy not seen since the early days of Sony: investment is not rewarded, dedication earns nothing. Random selection and statistics are king over relationships and community. Sign up today for testing, and your odds of being selected are the same as someone who signed up a year ago. Or two.
Yep, I signed up for testing nearly two years ago. Some players I know predate me by a year. I don’t have a beta invite. They don’t have a beta invite. Yet others I know of who signed up less than a month ago are happily enjoying the beta as we speak. Laugh at the comparison if you want to. Deny it if you will. But approach the future with caution, because a precedence is being set here.
ETA: Egads! Apologies for all the typo’s. Must be Thanksgiving holiday or something!
That’s my new nickname for Star Wars Galaxies. I was initially very excited to hear that a free week was being handed out. So I logged in this afternoon to doodle around with my favorite character, a Rodian Officer. And promptly had to relearn everything. The controls in SWG are utterly alien compared to standard MMO’s. Right clicking, rather than pulling up information, is a good way to get yourself killed if you have the wrong NPC targeted. Getting into your speeder is easy – getting out is rather difficult. You can waste credits on a ticket to another planet – or if you are savvy you can just call up your own personal starship on your datapad. Banking terminals…don’t actually let you “bank” anything other than cash.
And part of my frustration is that if I can survive and thrive amidst the learning cliff that is EVE – why the hell is SWG so hard for me to wrap my head around? It should be a cake walk compared to EVE. But then again, I’ve had good mentors in EVE from almost the first week of play. In SWG I literally have no one.
The odd thing is, the more I get frustrated, the more I want to stick with it. I’d like nothing better than to have someone in SWG show me the ropes and g ive me tips. But I just don’t think its going to happen. The game age of the playerbase is such that there are a little jaded against new players – and why wouldn’t they be? The learning curve is such that I’m sure at this point not many new players stick with it – and if every vet spent their time training new players who disappeared two or four weeks later, they’d be ready to quit too.
Anyway, I have five more days to play around for free and see what I can come up with, and I’m determined to make some progress this time around.
Is it just coincidence that Star Wars: Galaxies and Pirates of the Burning Sea are both offering up a full month of free time right now? Or is something else lurking behind the emails sitting in my inbox offering me more free time than Sony is usually want to give for teaser sessions?
SWG is, overtly, rolling out some new PvP content that they want people on board for – but all the extra items and goodies they are offering with the free time highlight player housing – something more of an investment (and PvE nature) than PvP is. In other words, they want the full spectrum of players on board. Free play lasts until March 1st.
PotBS is highlighting their server merges (down to 2 from 5). Trust me, I know from first hand experience how desperate the player base was for this. My mid 20’s privateer regularly got invited to fleet battles with 40-50th level players, because they couldn’t fill their quota, and one more ship, even a small one, might be enough to tip the balance. Interestingly, there is no word in the email of economy changes and updates, which are the core of whats wrong in Pirates. Free play lasts until March 5th there.
On the one hand, this makes sense. For those disappointed with Star Trek Online, and there are some, they need a fix. Offering them a SWG, with its similiar high profile IP makes sense, as does offering up Pirates, a game that admitedly, offers game mechanics very similar to that offered on STO. Covering this month gives them a chance to hook the disaffected, and perhaps those disaffected will stick around and bring in some of those that will not stay around past the free month of STO.
Beneath the surface though, lies the fiscal reality of Sony. Sony is only just now getting back onto its feet after a year of losing money. Giving a free month now means they can track how many people will stick around past the free time for the last month of their fiscal year, which ends March 31st. If the free time doesn’t boost numbers by a certain amount – will that mean that they get chopped?
For me personally, I’m not sure a return to Pirates is in order. The underlying frustration with the economy is not solved by more players – at least, not in the short term. The only way to acquire ships abover level 25 or so is to join one of the pre-existing guilds, and even finding new ships below that is dicey. Meaning that playing anything other than a pirate (with their ability to capture vessels) is frustrating. With a larger player base things might turn over (it takes *alot* of players to build a ship, especially the high level ones), but not unless those players are sticking around long enough to build their economic empires.
Star Wars, on the other hand, is intriguing. I really only stopped playing SWG because I wanted to participate in the launch of WAR, and I’d really like to give it another shot. Crafting and economics were fun, space combat was good. Population was – sparse and irritating. But I’m sure the server mergers have helped. I seem to remember somewhere though that since I didn’t transfer the characters, I’m going to have to start from scratch. Only one way to find out…