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.