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.
Once we flew to safety, I met up with my Jedi trainer who gave me a simple mission and once I accomplished it, he gave me two things: a set of Padawan robes and a necklace that enhanced my agility. Choopy can wear the robes. Someone forgot to tell SOE that WOOKIEES CAN'T WEAR CLOTHING. This is what I end up looking like. I have no idea what the hell's going on with the forearms. Oh, and the neck? Check out the next picture.
MY HED IS FLOTEING ON YAY
Choopy gets many quest rewards. As a Wookiee, however, he can't wear them. The necklace, as you can see, is unusable by Wookiees. But do we get a choice here, or an alternative? Of course not. Wookiees get the shaft.
EXPLORE EXCITING NEW SPACE WORLDS AND INTERACT WITH TONS OF GREAT NPCS, EACH WITH INTERESTING THINGS TO SAY
The merchant dialogue now is horrible. See that window? It closes and opens every time you sell or buy something. It's clunky, it's inefficient, and it's definitely nowhere near optimal.
And check out the back of my head there. I look like a refugee from Planet of the Apes.
Choopy once again displays why he won ROLEPLAYER OF THE YEAR in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
Nothing says MYSTERIOUS like poorly-rendered fog! And walking in it doesn't reduce your framerate one stinkin bit.
Eventually I made it into space, and the space flying part of the game is kinda fun. Reminds me of the ol' TIE Fighter and X-Wing games, back when LucasArts actually made fun games to play and not stinking, bloated cash cows.
Unfortunately, after I had fun flying around in space ships blowing things up, I couldn't dock at the space station and continue my STAR WARSY ADVENTURY. I tried to blow up my own space ship and warp back home, but no go. The game crashed and when I brought it back up, my character was still in space, outside the space station, but I wasn't in my ship anymore. I couldn't move and I couldn't go anywhere and I could do nothing. I am stuck in space. Eventually I tried looking at the game help.
Game help says "Try the /eject or /unstick commands." The game itself says "No such command."
GAME OF THE FREAKIN YEAR.
I also tried paging a CSR. They responded rather quickly in the typical form response with empathizing statement (I've worked CS before, I know this deal in and out.) The CSR said "I am sorry to hear that you are stuck in space."
Can't say he didn't read for content.
I was also told this problem "has been forwarded to our development team." Apparently the concept of a player being stuck in space is such a novel occurrence that they don't have any contingency plan in place for it! Apparently they just can't warp a player back to a cloning center or start point or anything. Nope, this one's going all the way up to the Devs! Who, judging by the look of this game, have rushed things out so fast that they're probably still wired on the meth, Red Bull, and Hostess snack cakes.
So, in a nutshell, I'm stuck in space and Sony Online Entertainment is very sorry about it. And that's awesome.