November 21st, 2005

Tom Lehrer is Smug

STAR WARS GALAXIES FINDS NEW AND CREATIVE WAYS TO SUCK

I have a weekend post around here somewhere. I have warm and joyous memories of show finishing and drama highs and cast party partying and my my my. It was a wonderful weekend and there are plenty of people around I need to give out the shouts to. I will attempt to collect my thoughts very soon, but this afternoon the thoughts got sucked out of my ear by a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad video game.

As some of you may very well be aware, Star Wars: Galaxies recently pulled one of the biggest F-Yous to its players in gaming history. No more than two days after releasing the "Trials of Obi Wan" expansion, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) announced it was completely revamping the game, taking away the things that mildly interested players in the first place and replacing it with a "more action-oriented" game. Gone are the custom professions players worked on and customized, replaced by a choice of 9 cookie-cutter classes, each based on a Star Wars character. Instead of players having to grind to get a coveted Jedi class, say, the Jedi can be chosen right from the character generation screen now.

Gone are things that helped drive a player economy such as item decay (which encourages repeat business) and anything involving one iota of thought. And gone are several classes, such as Creature Handlers and Bio Engineers. Never you mind that the Trials of Obi Wan expansion was SOLD to Creature Handlers with the promise of "We know we've been ignoring you guys, but this expansion will have new creatures and content for you, honest, so pick it up when it comes out!"

Players have been quitting in droves. SOE fired its chief community liaison. Negative reviews of the revamp (called "NGE") were wiped from Gamespot. stratics.com put an official "Do you like the NGE?" poll on their official boards. When the "No" responses outnumbered the "Yes" by powers of ten, a SOE representative claimed that it was rigged because "you can vote multiple times with the same IP." How'd the rep figure that? Well, apparently they were trying to rig the vote, too...

Oh, it's been a merry circus of fun.

I hadn't played SW:G since late 2003, when my Wookiee named Choopy ran amok, but when I heard there was a 10-day free trial with no credit card required, I jumped right in and downloaded the game just to see if things were as bad as the players claimed it was. I found out the game was actually much, much, much worse. You can tell this revamp was as rushed as possible to please the suits, who had some semblance of a thought in their head that the game needed to be MORE STARWARSY and LESS WHAT THE PLAYERS WERE ENJOYING. To call it a horrible flaming trainwreck would be an insult to flaming trainwrecks everywhere.

Like every single other person in this goddamn trial, I chose to be a Jedi. Any race can be a Jedi, it's all-inclusive. First thing in the game, Choopy gets rescued from the Imperials by Han Solo and Chewbacca and flies away in the Millennium Falcon. Right here is the first indication that things are horribly crappy. We all love the notable characters in Star Wars, and we'd love the chance to meet 'em and play around with 'em, but in the old SW:G, you kinda had to work to get to 'em. For instance, if you were an Imperial, you had to work your way up the ranks, doing missions for Imperial officers, before Lord Vader granted you an audience and gave you special tasks to do. Same thing with Jabba the Hutt and Princess Leia. You can't just go up to a luminary in the world and say "sup" but here, right off the bat, we're pallin around with Han and Chewie and I feel like the biggest fucking Mary Sue ever.

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So, in a nutshell, I'm stuck in space and Sony Online Entertainment is very sorry about it. And that's awesome.