Star Wars Galaxies Is Over

By Jim Rossignol on December 16th, 2011 at 10:38 am.

Faintly ludicrous, yes.
There’s always something a little melancholy about a game world being shut off for the last time, but this goes doubly for the ill-fated Star Wars Galaxies, which ran its last Kessel run yesterday. The MMO, which was first launched to much fanfare in 2003, was shut down as SOE’s contract with LucasArts expired, and to make way for EA’s The Old Republic, which is now imminent. Galaxies was always a troubled beast, of course, being controversially simplified and reduced in scope by 2005′s “New Game Enhancements”, an attempt to expand the appeal of the MMO which left it a shadow of its former self. I will always remember it most fondly for my time working on PC Gamer, where the guy who sat at the desk behind me became a ruthless and enormously wealthy architect, and also for having playable Ithorians, least commercial of all the alien races.

Rest in peace, brave Galaxies.

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40 Comments »

  1. Echo Black says:

    Goodnight sweet prince.

    This is one of these games I never got to play but always heard great things about. And with TOR seeming to be a WoW clone, I doubt I’ll ever get the chance of playing something like SWG outside of bootleg servers for it. :/

    • Grygus says:

      Define “WoW clone” in a way that doesn’t include MMOs that released before WoW.

      • Mugwump says:

        Wow is a clone of every game that came out before? that would mean it’s a clone of star wars galaxies which clearly isn’t. SOE even changed the game to make it more like WoW when the craze started.
        When people say TOR is a WOW clone they can argue that the way characters navigates as maps reveal themselves is identical. The key shortcuts to each function. talents abilities character sheet quests/ missions inventory /bags are the same. More disturbing a Sith assassins have in their panel of abilities the stealth power that renders the character invisible the backstab attack the ability to sap one opponent while in stealth mode. the Sith warrior has a force charge that works like the charge of the warrior charge in WOW makes the warrior travel almost instantly towards enemies and give rage points. yes botth the sith warrior and the warrior in WOW have a pool of rage points that get depleted when not fighting and that can be filled by hitting enemies. the second abilities is the shock that an aoe attack that stuns enemies around the warrior for a short amount of time in both games. I could go on for ever. And yes the sith assassin has a force pool similar to the energy of the rogue in WOW

    • Chris D says:

      Any MMO brought into being by an exec looking at Blizzards profits and saying “Minions! Make me one of those!”

      Actually I assume your point is that WoW didn’t originate most of it’s mechanics either and borrowed heavily from its predecessors, which is fair enough. But I think that in terms of influencing the shape of MMO development ever since the success of WoW has still been the defining factor, so using the term WoW clone is still somewhat justified.

    • Grygus says:

      What you just said seems contradictory to me. Perhaps we have a problem with definitions. When you call a game a “clone,” I see that as a somewhat pejorative term; it’s just a copy and therefore mostly pointless. The Madden series was rightly derided for often being a series of clones, for example. Are you using clone in a complimentary or descriptive way? I think it is an extraordinarily bad description for most MMOs; you say “WoW clone” and then spend half an hour discussing the differences.

      WoW has deeply influenced the MMO genre in exactly three ways, one of which isn’t on the screen: the layout of the interface is nearly an industry standard (though other games seem to miss that what people love about WoW’s interface is actually its modability, not necessarily the default layout), and as far as I know WoW was the first game to use the now-ubiquitous system of marking quest NPCs with symbols over their heads. The third way was that more MMOs are surely getting made because of WoW’s success; but is merely existing and having those two features enough to make another game a “clone”? You are right that I am saying that other features in common are surely simply part of being a modern MMO, and mostly pre-date WoW.

      It seems to me to be a very bad label. It isn’t descriptive, it’s lazy criticism, and it communicates nothing but ignorance. What am I missing?

    • Chris D says:

      @Grygus

      I’m probably a bit late with this now but for what it’s worth:

      Maybe I misunderstood what you were getting at. Was it the word clone you were objecting to, rather than WoW getting too much credit as opposed to, say Everquest?

      Perhaps clone is a bit harsh, maybe inspired is better, but it’s been quite a heavy inspiration in a lot of cases. I wouldn’t say calling something a WoW clone means it’s a bad game, just an uninspired one, playing it safe.

      I think I’d take a broader view of WoW’s influence than your examples. Most MMO’s have tended to follow a fairly standard template of hotkey combat, the tank/heal/dps trinity, classes and levelling tends to be handled quite similarly, quest structure. There hasn’t really been that much change in the overall shape of the genre over it’s lifetime, with some exceptions, EVE most notably perhaps, although I think that’s enough it’s own thing to be considered a separate branch of the evolutionary tree rather than a progression of this one..

      It’s understandable. MMO’s are expensive and investors don’t like risk. But most games have been unable to break WoW’s dominance, because why play something like WoW when you can play WoW I guess. Really a lot of this only comes to light now Guild Wars 2 is around the corner and is saying “Hey, it doesn’t have to be like this.”

      I think perhaps time will show the tragedy of TOR, if you’ll allow me a little dramatic license, is that it’s just a couple of years too late. I suspect that we’d have been happy enough with it if there wasn’t the promise of something better, but with GW2 casting a large shadow, and also Secret World looking to mix things up, more of the same just doesn’t seem so appealing to a lot of people anymore. I don’t think TOR will be a bad game, but I’m not sure it’s going to do enough.

      I suspect I haven’t actually answered your question in all that but I think that’s as close as I’m going to manage for tonight.

  2. Chris says:

    I played SWG from it’s release.

    And it wasn’t very good. Very little to do with Star Wars, and not much in the way of gameplay, beyond the crafting time sink.

    • Echo Black says:

      I haven’t played SWG, but this post is just vague enough to make me think you haven’t actually played much of it (or at all), yet are trying to downplay it in light of anticipation for TOR. Sorry if I’m wrong!

    • sneetch says:

      I haven’t played either, Echo Black, but your post makes me think that you are willing to base massive assumptions on very little information. Sorry if I’m wrong.

      On the other hand, why continiue to play a game that isn’t very good?

    • MrMud says:

      I also played from the start until a half a year before the rework or so.
      The game was in many respects terrible. But the crafting was fun despite being kind of broken in so many ways.

      As an armor or weaponsmith with early access to skill patches (for 12 points) you got disgustingly rich.

    • Doth Messar says:

      I’ve played it. I played it from release and I played it well into the NGE. This game was fantastic. In my opinion it was quite a unique game. Had nothing to do with Star Wars? Are you kidding me? I loved this game because in all intents and purposes you were kept as far away from a light saber as possible (until the NGE). This game wasn’t about you taking on the mantle of Jedi or Sith and fighting each other. This game was about living the life (as best as an RPer could) as an individual in the Star Wars universe could during the selected time period. There was the Rebellion, the Empire, AND the neutrals, who could be persuaded to help one side or another. Among those neutrals were often Bounty Hunters, who unlike the Kiddy-Dumbed-Down TOR, were supposed to be neutral. They work for money, they work for criminals, they work for themselves. How you conducted yourself was up to you, and you didn’t need a 4 button answer system to align yourself. Some people I met never made a fighter character, they just made money and crafted or entertained. They built arms dealing empires that sold to the highest bidder. Entertainers sometimes acted like informants giving out info to people they liked. We built bases on numerous systems and fought it out against each other, spamming alarms when attacks in earnest were launched against key bases. We took it to the skies in single man fighters and 3-4 man cruisers and duked it out. That is one area in which SWG needed to build upon. I know many people liked the idea of space but weren’t any good at dog fighting. They needed to implement boarding parties and capital ships. (I believe they had that idea as I’ve seen footage of Imperials boarding a Rebel ship.) They also should have implemented trade lanes, convoys, escort missions, and Civil War supply systems to give space some meaning. Otherwise it often just turned into bragging rights. Nothing was scripted, except the admin events, but those were boring anyway.

      It had stupid quests, stupid was of making money, yes. But these were things which could have been improved. If instead of the new TOR came SWG 2, I would be subscribing. In a heartbeat. If it could replicate and improve upon SWG, it would have my sub for a long, long time.

    • Phantoon says:

      Haven’t played or really looked at TOR, because it does not interest me.

      But I did play SWG from launch, and it was certainly more Star Wars than TOR looks to be.

      Anyways, it’s been dead for 6 years. Time to let the shambling zombie corpse finally die.

    • Arglebargle says:

      The game was broken, unfinished, and released too early. While it did some unique things, it failed on so many levels.

      I know, as a Star Wars fan, I was interested. But I had friends on the Dev team, and they warned me away from it…..

      Middle and upper management killed this in development. All the various evil patches were attempts to stop the hemorraghing. In hindsight, they’d have been better leaving it as it was, and just trying to make the many, many busted parts less broken.

  3. Ergates_Antius says:

    I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced

  4. Symitri says:

    I’d wager Ithorians are more commercially viable than Gungans!

    • westyfield says:

      Howsa you saya that!

    • Fierce says:

      Eugh, everything is more commercially viable than Gungans. Even my 11 year old twin niece/nephew don’t like them.

      [Christopher Hitchens, 13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011]
      [When a Great Beacon fades, the World darkens twice.]

  5. Simon Hawthorne says:

    Didn’t SOE say they had some big event to mark the end of this? Some in-universe surprise? Did that happen?

    EDIT: See http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/07/12/swtor-was-an-accomplice-in-galaxies-death/#more-65983 for “Seventh months of the game remain, and SOE are promising a blow-out finale. That’s something I’d like to be there for. I hope it involves the Jawas taking over the universe.”

    Did the Jawas take over the universe? Please?

    • iHavePants says:

      They let players fly spaceships within planets atmospheres and prance about as gargantuan ewoks/Jabba-the-hutts/any other character model in the game. And there were fireworks.

    • Simon Hawthorne says:

      brb, I need to go and look up “blow-out finale”

    • finnith says:

      I was watching Giantbomb stream it on their site.

      A Z95 rapidly penetrating a Sarlacc will probably be the single most terrifying image I’ve ever seen.

  6. Was Neurotic says:

    I remember the wealthy (Sulusstan?) architect from various articles in the mag. Who was that, again? Alec?

  7. Roshin says:

    Good riddance, I say.

  8. aircool says:

    SWTOR: Imperial Agent. ‘Nuff said!

  9. DiamondDog says:

    I’d like to invoke Godwin’s law straight off here by stating if Galaxies was Napoleon’s attempt to invade Russia, then SWTOR will be Hitler’s attempt to do the same thing. With a predictable outcome.

    Learn from the past, people. That winter will be too cold!

  10. BigJonno says:

    A game that I once dearly loved and the last MMO I played that seemed to cater to what I wanted from a MMO. My mind is a little blown to find out it’s been six years since the travesty that was the NGE.

  11. bastard_samurai says:

    I wish I had the knowledge and skills to turn this dead MMO into a single player offline RPG. I think this should actually become a standard, MMOs that die, get to live on as offline SP games.

  12. Lobotomist says:

    Now take the game (and i mean the old pre NGE) and rebrand it with different setting.

    Instant hit for SOE

  13. Kaira- says:

    Sit tibi terra levis.

  14. Wulf says:

    I’m not the biggest fan of SWG, it’s just not my thing, but what I can’t understand is why SOE and companies like them don’t recode and release their servers when they’re shutting a game down. They could even sell licenses and turn a profit off it.

    The only big hassle they’d have is having to recode a library or two that they’d have to remove, but there are probably already open source solutions which are halfway there, so it wouldn’t take their coders as long as one might imagine to get it sorted.

    It’s just baffling, really.

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      The Sombrero Kid says:

      Anyone playing SWG is someone not playing another MMO they can make even more profit from, although i’m with you on that one because it was a unique mmo and we’ll likely never see anything like it again.

    • rockman29 says:

      You’re forgetting about the company LucasArts who might prefer people to be paying the subscription fee rather than enjoying a free-to-play game.

    • Phantoon says:

      Star Wars License.

      But in the case of other MMOs, yes. Tabula Rasa should’ve been a single player game in the first place.

  15. KlaxonOverdrive says:

    What ever happened to Raph Koster?

    Off to Google!

    • Raph Koster says:

      I moved off of SWG before the NGE and became Chief Creative Officer of SOE. Wrote A THEORY OF FUN in that period. Did that for almost three years, then left to do Metaplace, a virtual world startup, in 2006. Created awesome tech that didn’t make money as a UGC virtual world network, but peaked at tens of thousands of worldlets running on a single network, hosting everything from classrooms to games to live concerts to whatever, running in browsers. When it didn’t make money, we swtiched to social games, and launched three of them before getting acquired by Playdom/Disney. That was a year and a half ago, and I am still at Playdom.

  16. Nooto says:

    I never played Starwars Galaxies, but whenever I hear the name I think about a certain Planet Fargo story from 2003. http://archive.gamespy.com/fargo/august03/autorpg/

  17. TwwIX says:

    Fret not! There’s still hope!

    http://www.swgemu.com/

    P.S.

    Fuck you SOE for killing a fantastic sandbox mmo!

    • Ultra-Humanite says:

      If you are going to crassly lash out at someone due to the fact that you have absolutely zero clue how licensing works, at least make sure you do so towards the right people. It was Lucas Arts, not SOE that killed SWG.