Star Wars Galaxies

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Star Wars Galaxies
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Star_Wars_Galaxies_Box_Art.jpg
Star Wars Galaxies box art.

Developer(s) Sony Online Entertainment
Publisher(s) LucasArts
Release date(s) June 26, 2003
Genre MMORPG
Mode(s) Multiplayer
Rating(s) ESRB: Teen (T)
Platform(s) PC (Windows)

Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided (SWG) is a Star Wars themed MMORPG for Windows PCs, developed by Sony Online Entertainment and published by LucasArts Entertainment. It was released on June 26, 2003. With several hundred thousand subscribers, it is one of the most popular MMORPGs in the United States.

Galaxies, like most MMORPGs has a monthly subscription service and various pricing plans depending on the length of the plan. Per month the privilege of playing the game is $14.99 USD. There is also a three-month plan ($13.99 USD per month), a six-month plan ($12.99 USD per month), and a yearly plan ($11.99 USD per month).

Contents

Development and release

With a Star Wars license and veteran designer Raph Koster at the helm, expectations among gamers ran high during the development of Galaxies. Many industry professionals expected that these forces would push the subscription numbers past the one million mark, a feat accomplished only thus far in Asia by MMORPGs such as Lineage. As development wore on, the release date was pushed back, features were cut, and Sony cancelled planned ports for the Xbox and PlayStation 2.

The game was released to mixed reviews. Galaxies was most criticized for numerous bugs and broken features that plagued the game. [1] (http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/468222.asp?q=star%20war%20galaxies)

Features

After release, the developers continued working on the features cut during the delay. In November 2003, two of those most anticipated features, creature mounts and player-created cities, were enabled. Also, on November 7, 2003 it was announced that the first player had unlocked a Force-sensitive character slot needed to become a Jedi.

The Star Wars Galaxies environment has many differences from other MMORPGs. Roughly each month, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) produces a patch for the game that supplies the players with new content and more of the story. Star Wars Galaxies has a unique player-run economy. SOE announced that it would release a "Combat Upgrade" (previously called a "Combat Rebalance" or "Combat Revamp") which would address many issues the gamer community had wanted changed within the Galaxies game. The Upgrade was implemented April 27, 2005.

In the game, players choose among a variety of professions, from bounty hunter to musician. Through the use of a "skill point" system, players can only master a certain number of professions. Professions are designed to be interdependent, where, for example, a commando can kill things quickly but might need a doctor's aid, should a combat medic enter the scene. In addition, the Galactic Civil War aspect of fighting for the Rebels or Galactic Empire is meant to be Galaxies' "end game".

Expansions

Jump to Lightspeed

Sony Online Entertainment released the first expansion Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed on October 27, 2004. The expansion allows players to explore and battle in ten new sectors of outerspace, in more than twenty types of starships from the era between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, including familiar X-wings, TIE Fighters, and YT-1300s (same type as the Millennium Falcon), as well as new and never before seen ships created by the developers. It also adds real-time space shooter elements to the game, which makes an interesting combination with the MMORPG. Jump to Lightspeed also added many space missions, four space-specific professions, and two new playable species.

Rage of the Wookiees

The second expansion for Star Wars Galaxies, Star Wars Galaxies: Episode III Rage of the Wookiees, was announced in March 9, 2005. Rage of the Wookiees is set to be released around the same time as the final Star Wars film, Revenge of the Sith, and is to include some Episode III content such as the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk.

Other features will include new spacefighters, resource mining in space, and cybernetic limbs for player's characters. The Rage of the Wookiees expansion will also include the previous expansion, Jump to Lightspeed, for no additional charge.

Combat Upgrade

Combat Upgrade was released April 27, 2005 and was a major revamping and rewriting of the entire Star Wars Galaxies combat, armor, and weapons system. A more "realistic" tone was set, whereas only certain characters in certain professions would use specific weapons and wear armor. In addition, the method of fighting in the game was redone with skill levels assigned to both players and game creatures. Under the new system, only a creature of equal skill could be attacked by a player, with lesser creatures rendering no experiance if killed and the more powerful creatures deemed almost invincible to single player attacks.

The Combat Upgrade drew tremendous criticism from gamers even before it was released. Upon its initial activiation, a number of bugs were reported not the least of which was that players logging on found most of their weapons and armors useless under the new combat upgrade system. The game designers at once begin design patches and game corrections, due to be released throughout the summer of 2005. Also, the "respecing" of player skills has come into play. Characters can switch their skills around to other professions but if those switched skills are mastered, characters have to wait 21 days (till the respec is over) to acquire a badge. Many players have complained about the new combat upgrade and the respec of skills. SOE has made it very hard on new players and even on old players who are still trying to master skills. The combat upgrade REQUIRES players to be in a group to earn XP. The combat level has also ruined part of the game, hence, players cannot use certain weapons unless they are high enough in level. The old method of leveling your skills and getting certifications was much less stressful. Most high ranking players dont want to hunt and grind with new lower level players and this causes problems for the newer players in the game.

The Jedi in Star Wars Galaxies

Unlike the historic chronology of Star Wars, where all Jedi are extinct by the time frame of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the concept of Jedi in Star Wars Galaxies is modified to have several hundred, if not thousands of Jedi capable of playing in the game which is set in the period of time between Episode 4 and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

All Jedi are live players who may only become a Jedi by achieving certain tasks and goals as a regular character. Therefore, no one may start Star Wars Galaxies as a Jedi and the developers of the program have numerous safeguards in place to prevent hackers from altering the program code to allow unauthorized characters to become Jedi.

Under the first Jedi system, a player could only become a Jedi after mastering professions chosen randomly for you at character creation. When less Jedi entered the game than was anticipated, players were helped by finding several holocrons that would tell a player which game professions to play and master. This resulted in several "career" players spending hours on end writing program macros and mastering almost every profession in the game. However after complaints from a large portion of the player base (especially those that weren't hard core and thus willing to master multiple professions), Star Wars Galaxies was altered to a new Jedi system called the Jedi Trials.

Under the Jedi Trials, only after obtaining several various goals as a regular character was a character considered "glowing with the force" and deemed worthy to train to become a Jedi. Several new tasks then became available to the player which were revealed through various NPCs (Non-Player Characters). Such tasks included obtaining various skills, destroying certain creatures, and visiting several Jedi related locations.

Even with the Jedi revamp in place, many in the Star Wars Galaxies community have expressed feelings that eventually the game will become an "Army of Generals" where the number of Jedi playing in the game will be extremely high, thus making the game less interesting for those who playing regular non-Jedi characters. It has not yet been announced by game programmers if yet another Jedi system will be enacted, although the method of obtaining Jedi skills was changed considerably under the "Combat Upgrade" system released in April 2005.

It is important to note that a limiting factor on the number of Jedi in the game is the bounty hunter system allowing characters who acquire the requisite skill in the Bounty Hunter profession to hunt Jedi and kill them. This results in an experience point drop for the Jedi slowing their progress. It is unclear how effective this system has been in reducing the number of Jedi, but this enforced player versus player combat is often the source of frustration on the part of Jedi.

External links

Fan sites

sv:Star Wars Galaxies

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