SOE’s Next Game ‘Dedicated’ To Star Wars Galaxies Fans

By Nathan Grayson on January 28th, 2014 at 12:00 pm.

Storm Troopers' helmets make it look like they're angrily disapproving of everything. I bet it's very hard for them to attend their children's piano recitals.

Back in my day, we played the original pre-NGE Star Wars Galaxies, and we liked it. No seriously, we really did, and I think the tide of public (or at least, gamerly) opinion has started lapping at those same shores over the years. Sure, the MMO was a mess when it first tractor-beamed money out of thousands of wallets, but it tried to be legitimately different. It set out to let us authentically inhabit the Star Wars universe, a brilliant vision hampered by half-finished, well, everything. But then the New Game Experience happened, everybody became a Jedi, and SWG was never the same again. SOE, it turns out, regrets that one big time, and they’d like to apologize. With a new game.

SOE’s next, still-officially-unannounced game will apparently be set in a “completely new” universe, but old-school Star Wars Galaxies players should feel right at home. SOE head John Smedley scream-teased his studio’s Next Big Thing in a Reddit AMA:

“SWG PLAYERS – OUR NEXT GAME (not announced yet) IS DEDICATED TO YOU. Once we launch it… you can come home now.”

He also noted that SWG is one of his biggest regrets, and given the opportunity to relaunch it he would “do everything differently.” Sounds like that’s more or less the plan here, except sans Star Wars branding.

It’s an exciting prospect to be sure, as much of SWG’s appeal stemmed from the potential of a universe that allowed for players to both adventure and occupy roles that were, well, incredibly mundane. But that was the point: not everybody was Luke or Leia or Han Solo or Darth Vader. But there’s a lot more to the Star Wars universe than those beloved faces, despite what most games might want you to believe.

SWG had promising sandbox aspirations, but ultimately fell short. Equally promising efforts like The Repopulation and SWGEMU are picking up where it left off, but it’s good to hear that SOE is also taking the Death Star approach (if at first you don’t succeed, Death Star, Death Star again) here. I’m all for more massively ambitious sandbox MMOs, and I think people are much more interested in sandboxes these days thanks to games like DayZ. Meanwhile, EVE has proven that even niche sandboxes can have serious legs.

All that said, SOE can’t just remake pre-NGE SWG by a different name, and I doubt it will. Times have changed. I suppose we’ll see what exactly that means for Totally Not SWG, er, eventually.

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56 Comments »

  1. Lemming says:

    I loved Star Wars, and loved SWG in its prime but…(i’m probably going to get outrage for this)

    They should just make a sci-fi MMO with the same mechanics and leave the Star Wars license at the door. SWG never felt like a Star Wars game. Star Wars is childhood hero fantasy with lasers and loop-de-looping X-wings. It’s not building furniture or brushing up on your entertainment dancing skills. SWG was more like a Star Trek game than a Star Wars one, but I’d love SOE to take a stab at their own unique sci-fi setting with the old SWG game design.

    At least then people can focus on what the game is, rather than what Star Wars-related piece of lore has been left out or not implemented yet.

    EDIT: I realise that’s what the article implies, but I’ve been saying this since SWG first turned up. It certainly wasn’t a popular idea then.

    • Saul says:

      So in other words: “Hurrah!”(?)

    • meloncrab says:

      Star Wars Galaxies always felt like the world of the short stories in the Expanded Universe: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Tales_from_the_Mos_Eisley_Cantina

      SWG was about the other guys, the living world of the Star Wars universe. And it had great role play possibilities. When Lucas Arts tried to make it a themepark MMO everything went to shit.

    • aliksy says:

      I don’t really like star wars, so when something licenses it I lose interest.

      Time for a brief rant: For fuck’s sake, can everyone just stop trying to balance jedi against mundane classes? Jedi have fucking laser swords and magic powers. That is several steps above a soldier, so stop pretending they’re equals. You might say “but we need to balance them for gameplay, or the people playing non-jedi will feel underpowered!” Well maybe that’s a sign that your fucking setting isn’t good for games, huh?

      I’m sure someone who has studied the extended lore will be around shortly to explain all the hand-wavey reasons why this isn’t the case.

      • Damien Stark says:

        No need to bring “extended lore” into this, as your premise practically refutes itself.

        Individual Space Marines are nowhere near “balanced” with Orks or Imperial Guard, but somehow the 40K games have done alright.

        Just because the lore contains some unusually powerful people doesn’t mean the whole IP is unsuitable for games.

        • aliksy says:

          I don’t play 40k so the reference isn’t useful to me.

          Conceptually, Jedi have the schticks typically associated with wizards, clerics and fighters all at once. That requires some tricks to not overshadow the other types of people.

          • worrytron says:

            Basically he’s saying quantity can make up for quality, but in the solo-balanced Warhammer games the space marines are given extraordinary powers, so it doesn’t really hold water. IMO your point stands.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Well I don’t think that’s going to be a problem seeing as how SOE doesn’t have the Star Wars license anymore.

    • Distec says:

      I think that’s a popular take on the Star Wars universe, but it’s also a personal one. I think we’ve reached the point where the Star Wars universe itself has eclipsed the films in terms of appeal, and that’s because it can house a range of stories and feelings. KOTOR 1 & 2, for example, feel distinct from the movies and yet still capture that Star Wars essence (whatever that is). The SW universe implies so much more happening than just lightsabres and The Force, and I’d love more media that explores the “mundane” elements. There’s no reason for the franchise to be restricted to “childhood hero fantasy” just because that’s the biggest face it puts forward.

      A Star Wars MMO where I can shovel Bantha shit on Tatooine for compensation? I’ll sign up for that in a heartbeat.

    • WedgeJAntilles says:

      I actually completely disagree with this–the big problem I have with Star Wars as a series is that it’s most popular and recognizable elements have been run into the ground. SWGs more mundane take on the universe was and is still relatively fresh.

  2. BrianOConnell says:

    Shouldn’t that quote read “Our next game is dedicated to your wallets”.

  3. Jp1138 says:

    I suppose John Smedley is giving tha game free to us all old SWG players to compensate for this evil actions in the past…

    • Rahdulf123 says:

      It’s SOE. They’re giving it to everyone for free.

      • Jp1138 says:

        Then i demand it to bee freer to old SWG players

      • RProxyOnly says:

        Is this sarcasm?

        • CmdrCrunchy says:

          Considering SOE is the king of free to play right now, I doubt it.

          • RProxyOnly says:

            But they’re not free, a lot of the SOE games are pretty much “hands out” on the microtractions… I do kinda like the one sub over a range of games.. but tbh who’s going to play the (I would say ‘older’ games here.. but in fact they’re just ‘old’) old games when they have access to the new one.

            Anyways.. meh..unless they are making a pre NGE game sans the SW licence then in no way is it ‘dedicated’ to anything other than their bottom line.

  4. bstard says:

    Sooo, SWG the Moba?

  5. Vernalagnia says:

    I want this. There’s no MMO (in my opinion) that got the mix of class progression/design your own whateves right like SWG got it right. With updated tech and a dedication to the things that made SWG amazing (while fiddling with some of the less successful aspects) this could really be something.

    • Seschwa says:

      Can’t agree more. (PRE-NGE) SWG is what I grew up on, and it’s the only mmo i’ve ever enjoyed. I concede the flaws, but i’ve never had that much fun in any other MMO. This article had me at the headline.

  6. Tei says:

    Themeparks are a tired style, but I am unsure about if SOE have the keys for sandbox high budget games… thats a lot, and perhaps very hard.

    • Jenks says:

      Theoretically sandboxes are cheaper to create, especially in the long run.

      Theme parks require creating ‘rides’ to go one once – quests, voice acting, scripted events, linear dungeons, etc. That all costs money to produce and must be churned out to retain players.

      Sandboxes just need systems. The players themselves are the content for other players.

      • Tei says:

        Thats completely true. But I think is still hard to make a good sandbox people want to play, and people will have very high requirements for a high budget game.

  7. DClark says:

    When I read Smed’s comment my first thought was “Which SWG players? The Pre-NGE ones who liked leveling up skill sets or the post-NGE ones who liked ‘Iconic Professions’?” They were two different games with the same skin.

    I enjoyed the pre-NGE SWG but the bugs and the monthly price premium over EverQuest meant I found my way back to EQ after several months. I kept touching base with SWG to see if the bugs would be squashed to the point that I’d return but instead of concentrating on eliminating the bugs they kept changing things (which tended to create more bugs), and then when the NGE happened I knew I wouldn’t go back to SWG.

    I’d like to see more information about this upcoming title before I swoon over ‘the second coming of SWG’.

  8. Koozer says:

    YES. The original Koozer with his highly unsuccessful astromech business will ride again!

  9. Kemuel says:

    There was a post on Reddit yesterday showing that the Star Wars Galaxies trademark was renewed at the end of last year-> http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/1w7w12/star_wars_galaxies_trademark_was_renewed_one/

    This could be very, very interesting if they are rebooting pre-NGE Galaxies as-it-was. Rather bad news for the fantastic folks running the SWG Emulator, for that matter.

    • worrytron says:

      Trademark is not a license. That just means SOE retains rights to the specific “Star Wars Galaxies” game title, and perhaps associated assets (logos and whatnot). Has nothing to do with rights to the Star Wars IP.

  10. Arglebargle says:

    Well, don’t release your game half done this time, and make sure that various important parts of it actually work. Spend the time and money to get it launched properly, because it will bite you back hard otherwise. I was warned away from SWG when it launched by two friends of mine who were on the dev team. It was that messed up.

  11. ScubaMonster says:

    Sounds promising, especially if their efforts on EQ Next and Landmark are an indication of the potential quality (emphasis on potential).

    Only thing that scares me is that SOE is trigger happy when it comes to shutting down MMO’s that might not exactly be commercial successes. So, it could be an amazing game, but if it doesn’t hit certain goals then they might very well shutter this one too, as their recent shut downs have shown.

    I’m cautiously optimistic, but I’m a backer of the Repopulation on Kickstarter and hoping that will carry on the torch. Still interested in seeing what SOE might come up with though.

  12. Smashbox says:

    Of course, when extending that Death Star metaphor to its logical conclusion, things don’t sound so rosy.

  13. JD Ogre says:

    “But then the New Game Experience happened, everybody became a Jedi, and SWG was never the same again.”

    …because players who unlocked Jedi the hard way started whining and started the campaign to character assassinate a game that had become better in every single way. Sad that they succeeded in their whiny quest.

    • Lemming says:

      Not very likely. Pre-NGE you could count the number of Jedi on one hand. They were hardly in the numbers to be responsible for a hate campaign.

    • worrytron says:

      Yah this is sorta way off. While that DID in fact happen, the real problem was that the game was sold hard to role-players. Suddenly there were 5000 Jedi running around Tatooine, rather than 4999 smugglers, bounty hunters, medics, and maybe 1 Jedi. It totally broke the atmosphere of the game (back when such things were important, get off my lawn, etc.)

    • makute says:

      “…because players who unlocked Jedi the hard way started whining and started the campaign to character assassinate a game that had become better in every single way.”

      The players, really? SOE had, what to this very day is, the best concept and system for a MMORPG ever created, based on one of the more (if not the most) profitable franchises in history, and instead of fixing the numerous bugs and fill in it with original content, turned it into a theme park and sistematically destroyed every good idea they had.

      Mr. Smedley can insert the turd he’s cooking back where it came from. My hopes are on SWGemu and SWGemu alone.

      /rant off

      • Flammablezeus says:

        The Jedi system was the icing on the cake for the concept of SWG. That’s the kind of thing I want out of an MMO, as well as everything else it offered. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to be playing an MMO back before the NGE and missed out on what seems like the best MMO there’s been. I never ended up playing it before it was taken down.

        Then TOR came out, just to rub salt in the wound by showing how little people care about playing a decent MMO.

    • Koozer says:

      As someone who spent my entire 2 years in Galaxies yearning after the Jedi class, when the NGE hit and the button to become one was just there, I lost all interest and lamented the loss of such a unique character path. The NGE always looked like an absolutely blatant attempt to turn Galaxies into WoW.

  14. hurrakan says:

    Well let’s all hope this game will be developed specifically for PC and not for the PS4 (unlike Ever Quest Next).

    I don’t want PC games to be hamstrung by co-development with inferior console technology. Maybe PS4 is close to PC right now but probably wont be a few years down the line.

  15. TwwIX says:

    His words, with a grain of salt i take.

  16. Sergius64 says:

    In the same way that Everquest ‘Next’ is dedicated to Everquest fans I’m sure. Oh wait, it’s not.

  17. donweel says:

    So what if it is Dune this time, I would play that.

  18. Iskariot says:

    I am a big Star Wars fan and open world sand boxes are my favorite type of game.
    But I hate MMO in any form and shape.
    At least add an off-line single player component with a good AI for the many older Star Wars fans who are horrified and disgusted by immersion destroying MMO games.

    • Distec says:

      These kinds of posts mystify me.

      MMOs aren’t like other online games where an offline mode with AI is really possible. And in cases where it is, I think all you get is a subpar single-player warehouse. Why would you waste money on such a product?

      I also don’t understand the blind hatred for any/everything MMO, but w/e.

      • BTAxis says:

        It’s not the MMO part that’s the problem, it’s the having to interact with other players who, inevitably, are going to be dicks.

        • Distec says:

          Ehh… I don’t think that’s inevitable, or at least not as big of a nuisance as its often imagined to be. I met a number of asshats while playing World of Warcraft for a number of years, but very few of them caused experiences unpleasant enough to warrant much memory. Outside the occasional ninja looter or demanding group leader, most people were more than happy to cooperate with others (at least on a basic level) to kill the mobs, clear the dungeon, and grab the loot. Griefing lower level players happened, but these days you could very well level 1-60 and avoid getting ganked.

          I currently play EVE Online, a game whose playerbase is notorious for being predatory, deceptive, and all-around assholes. My experience so far? Everybody’s been pretty helpful! Even the pirates who kill me take the time to give me tips on how to improve. I’m not saying that these games don’t have “dicks” who can/will ruin your good time. And granted, everybody has their own tolerance level for the obnoxious and rude behavior that crops up in MMOs. I just think boiling the genre down to that one negative overlooks a lot of other positive developments that could arguably outweigh it. Besides, every online game has dicks, massively or otherwise.

          Any way… My main point with that reply was that MMOs are, in varying ways, dependent on other players for their content. When you remove the other players it’s basically an empty warehouse populated by talking mannequins, with gameplay you would likely not put up with in a purely single-player title. I mean, I like hammering out a good shot rotation in WoW, but I would never pay money for an offline campaign based on those mechanics.

          /i did not mean to write a wall of text D:

    • Zelos says:

      I don’t see how you can hate MMOs when you don’t even seem to understand them. A sandbox MMO, at its core, attempts to be a life-simulator, typically in some fantastic world or time. Players hyper-specialize to fit economic, scientific, or military niches as required of them, much like in the real world.

      A single player sandbox gives you a prebuilt world to go fuck around in. Communities already exist the moment you boot up the game, and they’ll be there exactly the same if you start a new one. If you do something you don’t like the results of, you can go back to a previous save. You might change some things, but they’re always pre-set and after a certain amount of time, you’ve done everything there is to do.. Games like GTA and The Elder Scrolls would fall into this catagory, but when compared to MMOs they more closely resemble theme parks.

  19. Devan says:

    Well, that was unexpected. I guess whatever becomes of this plan it can’t really be a bad thing. Smedley is admitting that what happened to Galaxies was a mistake and is attempting to woo us back with something new and supposedly similar. The worst that can happen is that it doesn’t live up to expectations, but then we’re still no worse off.

  20. dorn says:

    It’s going to be cash shop sandbox. When you stop and think you realize just how dumb that will be.

  21. CareerKnight says:

    SWG was prob the worst mmo I’ve ever played. I will admit that it had some good ideas but that statement is followed by a big asterisk that half of them were of the “sounds good on paper, fails in practices” variety and most of the rest were just horribly implemented. The game also had a ton of really bad ideas (having the first end game dungeon/raid require a decent amount of jedi back when there were very few or stealth in a game with no stealth class or mechanic comes to mind). I don’t know what the development team soe is assigning to this project has done before but the one for swg was awful. Besides what I mentioned above the game was released roughly in what would be considered early beta and between the time I started playing and stopped (which was prob about a year) and i can remember any changes to fix any of the many flaws in that time. The combat classes that were broken/op when I started were still broken/op when I left. If you liked the game I wonder how but whatever. The only fond memories I have of swg are of rping with the people I met.

    • Alceste007 says:

      SWG was the buggiest mess that I have ever played. Yes, that includes every Bethesda game ever made. The wailing and lamenting over this has always amazed me.

    • JohnnyPanzer says:

      I have to disagree. It all depends on your playstyle, and for roleplayers SWG was a dream come true. We ha a town with about 50 people in it who all stayed in character every single second of their time online, and we had a blast. We emoted frickin’ everything, created backstabbing schemes and played out absolutely e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g in real time.

      And believe me, there were a LOT of those kinda players. We never even noticed all the stuff the themepark players claimed was broken, how could we? The game just provided us with almost unlimited resources for our roleplaying, including moods, scenery, actual range based whispering and politics. To us, Quests and Dungeons were just there to provide us with easy spawns and backdrop scenery for our roleplaying, but the mechanics of it happened “behind the scenes”.

      I don’t think we ever finished a dungeon in all our time in the game, how could we, considering that setting up the reason for even going there and playing it out in character could take the better part of a week. After that you’d have the trip itself (once ships were added) and that could take several hours, unless someone had secretely called in some fellow roleplayers to stage a pirate attack, in which case the trip could span over more than one evening. All in all, one “raid” could take two or three weeks to play out and hundreds of hours of off-screen work to set up.

      Man… I miss it so much. Best time I have ever had.

  22. Doganpc says:

    Planetside Galaxies… you read it here first.

  23. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I spent all my time in the Mos Eisley Med Centre healing people and loved it. I had a House full of my pointless junk that was unique to me.

  24. rpsdan says:

    I just want KOTOR III. (Yes, I know that’s got nothing to do with SOE . . . )

    • Zelos says:

      I can’t really bring myself to be interested in KOTOR 3 if Bioware is at all involved. Dragon Age was the last decent game they made, and even that was mediocre in a lot of ways. Unfortunately, after Dragon Age, bioware realized their true calling wasn’t RPGs; it was homosexual dating sims.

  25. Nekoknight says:

    The NGE version of the game was reasonably good, I have since played the pre-CU version on swgemu and I still prefer the refinements that NGE offered but pre-CU had more character customization options and you could make a unique character rather than a set class. Of course the downside of this was that it was possible to make a dud character who sucked at everything by choosing the wrong skills.

    The ideal SWG2 would be somewhere in between precu & NGE. There will have to be the freeform character design of precu BUT the skills will need to be given better descriptions and a respecing option if you choose poorly. And interface will need to be NGE style since that was a lot less clunky , the crafting and town building will have to play a large role as well as well as the entertainer characters that made cantinas worth visiting to talk to people. I would also like to see latest gen graphics in the new game since near the end the graphics of SWG seemed pretty dated compared to newer games.

    Permadeath for jedi was also a poor choice in precu. The way I would of implemented it would be that Jedi are rare and have to be earned , but once you get one it is just like a normal character. It would not be too overpowered, but it would not have the unnecessarily extreme penalty of permadeath to deal with.

    I shall be watching to see where this next chapter leads us to.

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