12/15/2011 is the day a story from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ended… at least in the form of an MMO known as Star Wars Galaxies. Launched back in 2003, this used to be a wildly popular massively multiplayer online game. It took place somewhere between episodes 4 and 5, at the height of the galactic war between the Empire and the New Republic. The game featured a wide range of customization for its time. The ability to choose from a fair amount of races and use of body morphing dials to make whatever you had chosen look more unique hadn’t been seen. SWG in its early days was a great sandbox MMO. You could explore a variety of planets or lay down your own home. The building you used was actually made by another player, as was almost everything in the game which really was part of the fun. MMOs are about a social experience. I’ve never been as forced to be as social as I was when I played SWG.
I remember back then; all I wanted to be was a Jedi. From day one, we knew it was possible. No one knew how to become one. That mystery was the driving force behind my explorative game play. It was something that everything I’ve played since has lacked. Nowadays you have walkthroughs and cheats so there is no mystery, nothing left for you to really discover on your own. It eventually was discovered and as the path to being Jedi began, I got into it just before everything changed. It was fun, I felt hunted and admired, it took time and dedication, and it’s not something you could have easily cheated. I was a Jedi, and I earned it in the way it was originally intended.
Then in 2005, everything changed. The “Combat Upgrade” changed how the game was played from start to finish. This upset a lot of people, most of which left the game shortly after. What was once a very difficult road to being a Jedi was now something you could pick at the start of the game. I, like the others, quit, but I made my way back quite a few times. How could you not? There were constant updates and things that I suspect drew in many of the original fans back to experience at least once or twice. The game was more of a theme park now, yet it still had its moments.
I will forever remember experiences like joining a guild and building our own city, role playing events, actually being hunted by a Bounty Hunter, using my lightsaber at a star port and drawing a crowd, raiding open instanced dungeons where we run into another team and join forces, flying my first starship, and making my space yacht fun for parties. Even the little things like sitting at a cantina for buffs while actual players do the entertaining as their form of leveling were fun. These are things I’ve yet to experience again in another MMO, and believe me, I have looked. I was unable to join the end of days’ festivities that occurred on the 15th; I like to think myself there in spirit. Preferably the blue glowing kind surrounded by dancing Ewoks.
Thank you Star Wars Galaxies for allowing me to experience the true essence of a Massively Multiplayer Online Game. You will be missed.