Daily Elysium: In a Persistent-World Far Far Away
If you talk about impending Massively Multiplayer Games, then inevitably youÃ‚'ve got to talk about one of the Big 2: Star Wars Galaxies and World of Warcraft. While IÃ‚'m incredibly enthusiastic about the potential of a persistent Blizzard world, itÃ‚'s such a fuzzy and distant prospect at this point that I canÃ‚'t generate much more than tangential excitement, an enthusiasm for the concept without much specificity. Galaxies, on the other hand, has been a game IÃ‚'ve been irrationally excited about for years, and as its release solidifies into an increasing certainty, I find that excitement almost morphed into giddiness. Except, of course, now we know that a timely launch comes at a high price.We donÃ‚'t have player cities, vehicles, space flight, dark jedi, or player missions at launch. We also have a developer widely panned for poor customer service, and the constant concern that a Star Wars MMORPG will be more a forum for online scum and villainy above those in tune with the force. So is this giddiness a Greenspanian Irrational Exuberance? Read on, Padawan.
When it comes to MMORPGs, IÃ‚'m weak. Just ask Certis. HeÃ‚'ll tell you. He sure as hell tells me about it all the time. When I bought the DAoC expansion, he called me sad. When I bought AC2, he called me weak. That one time when I started my Everquest account up for the fourth time he called me hopeless. And, he hurled a mountainous string of vulgarities on me when I mentioned I was think about trying Anarchy Online ... again. He just sits up on his little pedestal, and passes his pedantic little judgment on everything, like some kind of sage arbiter of mortal worth, that holier-than-thou, pretentious, self-involved, magnanimous, combative, imperious twit!
When it comes to MMORPGs, IÃ‚'m weak. I accept it. I embrace it, and when I pick up the latest flavor I usually know that I'll become disillusioned when I donÃ‚'t quite find the blend of comradery, interaction, innovation, and gaming dynamic that I was hoping for. AsheronÃ‚'s Call 2 had, for me, a great group of guys to adventure with, but there was something fundamental missing in the formula for me, a fault perhaps with repetitious combat, a Spartan world, and no clear sense of personal identity - I was always playing an avatar, and never a character. Vaults were a terrific idea, the graphics were gorgeous, the leveling scheme was innovative, and there was a promise of a great game to come, but ultimately the real world proved more inviting than the online. Surprisingly, although I really canÃ‚'t go back and enjoy it the same way again, DAoC came closer than any other recent game to fulfilling my anticipation, but even then my eye was firmly set forward to the MMORPGs to come.
From the moment Galaxies was announced I knew I would play it, and I had a suspicion that it may just be the rare online world where I settled in and developed a personal identity. I was five years old in 1978 when I first saw Star Wars. I think five is one of those ages where, if you see the right thing, it can mold you for a good percentage of your life to come. Maybe you see a rocket soar toward space and your placed permanently on a path of exploration. Maybe your saved in a moment of great distress by a doctor or police officer, and you learn professional altruism. Maybe you get the high score on the Donkey Kong machine at the 7-11 and now you work at Raven Software or Maxis. Or, maybe, just maybe, you see Luke Skywalker scream down a metal chasm of lasers and, in a moment of theatrical tension and abandoned reality, bring down a galactic empire. Well then, youÃ‚'re on the path of writing about Star Wars games for your own freakinÃ‚' website.
ItÃ‚'s a simple life, but itÃ‚'s all mine!
YouÃ‚'re also intrinsically primed for enthusiasm at the prospect of venturing into the worlds of Star Wars, even if they are managed by the developer equivalent of a Sith Lord. But, is Verant really such an evil corporation, or are they simply the first on the block to make all the same mistakes? A lot of people like to paint Verant as a fundamentally misguided and poorly managed developer, but I never have quite seen it. I have seen Verant put itself into situations that no one had ever crossed before, make some mistakes, gain the ire of some customers, and yet through it all produce the seminal online gaming experience. Sometimes they put profits above customer satisfaction, and theyÃ‚'ve suffered from a well discussed bad reputation for customer service, and yet I canÃ‚'t help thinking that much of the Verant bashing comes from the vocal minority, while the vast majority of players deal successfully and happily with the developer every day. So, while reactionism ruled the day at the announcement of VerantÃ‚'s involvement with Galaxies, I couldnÃ‚'t help but see it as a logical choice.
What really seems to bother people, though, is the possibility of Galaxies simply being Everquest in Space. You know, this is a criticism I hear all the time. ItÃ‚'ll just be Warcraft in Space. ItÃ‚'ll just be Doom in 3d. ItÃ‚'s just Half-Life with terrorists. And, occasionally the dire predictions turn out to have some foundation, because every game steals something from its immediate predecessors, so I wondered if Galaxies would suffer. No question that now, among the next generation of online game, some of EverquestÃ‚'s design decisions seem archaic by comparison, but to fundamentally change the gaming dynamics of EQ at this point would be tantamount to design suicide. Is it fair to assume that Verant has learned nothing, that given the option theyÃ‚'d design a new MMORPG with precisely the same flaws? As I read this most recent developer chat, I couldnÃ‚'t help but begin to be convinced that SWG is anything but Everquest in space.
HereÃ‚'s some examples:
Holocron - The PvP [battlefields] exist mostly at largish fixed locations that have been created to have interesting tactical situations. They tend to be "destroy the other person's power generator" types of things.
Holocron - When you come to the edge of the battlefield, you can choose to join a side, unless you already belong to one of the two sides.
Holocron - You're automatically placed near your side's base... there's special channels for commanders on the sides, and so on to command people.
Holocron - You can, if you have the skills, also build walls and defenses around your base, and you can also check out soldiers and AT-STs and the like to order on the battlefield
Holocron - These things cost battlefield points, which your team earns over time on the battlefield
Shug_Ninx - The music system actually works like this: You gain access to songs to play. When you gain a new song, you have the ability to play the basic song - a loop essentially - and add flourishes as you see fit.
Shug_Ninx - There are several songs, each [with] eight flourishes, and each recorded for multiple instruments.
Shug_Ninx - There are also intros and outros for each song.
Shug_Ninx - The songs sound vastly different when played solo or played with a group, too.
marluka - *Agent81* What is your favorite profession?
Rogue_5 - Entertainer. I have never seen a game that has anything quite like it. It is a lot of fun to start up a band in the Mos Eisley cantina while other players hang out and dance to your music.
Q-3PO - Mine has to be Creature Handler right now. There is just something really cool about finding a young creature in the wild, carefully approaching to tame it and eventually seeing it learn its name. Plus the pet tricks are fun to watch and there different ones for different types of creatures :)
Holocron - When you start out as an artisan, you get a mineral surveying tool. You can use this to get samples of minerals and metals, and you can also craft survey tools for other things, such as liquids...
Holocron - Eventually, though, you can move on to placing mining installations. These also vary by resource type... you set up your facility, and it mines automatically for you,. Each facility can only mine for one type of mineral or resource at a time, though
I read stuff like this, and I get all excited again. Yes, player cities, vehicles, and player generated missions are out at launch. Yes, space flight is missing. And yes, IÃ‚'m willing to bet that a majority of these features are more likely to be provided through an expansion instead of a patch. Yes Jedi run the risk of perma-death (though, IÃ‚'m not actually critical of that design decision). Yes, invariably there will be all sorts of l33t d00ds, lag deaths, treadmill experiences, and balancing frustrations. ThatÃ‚'s inherent in the genre, and if youÃ‚'re not happy with it now, youÃ‚'ll probably never be, but despite all this I have nothing but enthusiasm for Galaxies.