So, by now you've probably heard that Sony Online Entertainment, formerly Verant of Everquest fame, is making a Massively Multiplayer Online Star Wars game. If you haven't then remember: You heard it here first! Well, if you just found out, then you'll also be happy to find out that the game looks to be closing in on release, which is a pretty good deal for you as we've all been waiting on this for a couple years now. If the latest post from Rich Vogel, Executive Producer is to be believed, then Galaxies is very close to Open Beta. Read on.
According to Mr. Vogel
Our current plan is to go to Open Beta in early May. This all depends on how polished we are. I realize lots of you want to play but it is important that we make your play experience an enjoyable one.
Considering that 'early May' is a scant two weeks away, one wonders how much more polishing they can expect to get done. With the opening of several thousand additional slots into the beta over the past few weeks, I'd imagine that polishing is simply a nice way of saying, 'if our servers don't look like they're going to crash, then we'll let you in.'
So what's still to be done before now and release? Well, Mr. Vogel adresses that a bit as well:
Our content team and world builders have been very busy filling our 10 planets with content. This is a huge job since our worlds are so large. What are they doing?
1. Providing more NPCs to give out missions instead of just having players going to a mission terminals for missions 2. Providing more variety of missions3. Providing an unique feel to each city4. Providing more static Points of Interests that are interesting and entertaining5. Providing more places like Imperial Strongholds (our equivelant of the Ã‚"dungeonsÃ‚" found in other MMOs) in the world that allow players to fight through many different levels of creatures and NPCs.
All of the above list will continue well after the game launches. We want to make sure we continually add new and exciting content.
Which is exactly the kind of list I'd like to see more MMORPG developers spend more pre-release time on, particularly number 3 and 4. A lot of the life of an environment that we're expected to 'live' in is its sense of originality and detail. We all know that we're going to be thrown into just another diku mud [sic], but at least give us interesting places to shoot at advanced hyper breeds of space rats. I hope SOE also addresses some of the stumblings of second generation MMORPG games like DAoC, Anarchy Online, and AC2. While Everquest is widely agreed to be a flawed game in many respects, it, at least, avoids putting the player in a boring world. Take, for example, the issue of discouraging camping by avoiding the use of boss monsters with mob specific rare drops. While I don't actually endorse camping here, I have to believe that people want more than cookie cutter monsters to fight. There's a very good reason so many people want to participate in EQ planar raids, and it's not because they're going to fight the same things they've fought everywhere else. I'm looking forward to shooting Stormtroopers, but I'm only going to shoot so many of them before I want to fight something more original.