Monday, August 13, 2007

Star Wars Galaxies - Is It Still Fun?

Well it's been a couple weeks now that I have been back to SWG. What I wanted to focus on was if the game is currently fun to play. I thought it best to put my existing characters aside initially and restart as a new player experiencing everything for the first time. This is not a post to bash the NGE and mourn over what was lost. There's been plenty of that for the last two years. I just really wanted to focus on the game in its current state.

Something I want to address that I mentioned in a previous post is the gold sellers spamming you on arrival. Having looked into the whole situation, I have a little better understanding. When I played EQ2 prevously, the 14-day trials were limited to the starter island. Since free trials are often the route of gold spammers, there really was not much they could do being stuck on that island. I was told SWG initially limited their trial to the space station tutorial, but the station is so small and there is nothing to do there beyond the quick tutorial; so it really was not a fair representation of the game.

Initially, GM's responded and would boot the spammers, but five minutes later they created a new account and would be back. So unless they pay someone to sit at entry point 24 hours a day on all the servers, not sure how they can get around this unfortunate situation. There is an option to turn off all chat by /afk players, but it is not selected by default. So any new players will just have to deal with this until they get their bearings.

I'll just highlight what I think works and what needs tweaking.

THE GOOD STUFF

1. Legacy Quest Line - When you first arrive in Mos Eisly as a combat class, you will receive a comm message on who to talk to. This begins the Legacy quest. You will be sent to various bunkers and caves to complete objectives such as breaking into the computer or killing mobs. Through this quest line, you will first receive a landspeeder and then later a faster speederbike. It will also provide you with various weapons of your choice.

You know how in other games you are sent two zones away to kill something, return to the npc who sends you all the way back there again to kill something else? I yell at them "why didn't you have me do that while I was there already?!" With these quests, you get there quickly by speeder or shuttle. And while you are at your target location, frequently the npc speaks to you via the comm telling you what to do next while there. One evening while we were playing, my husband mentioned reading about an upcoming game that would be quest-based that he won't be playing for that reason. I reminded him that we were currently questing in SWG. He said "Yeah, but these aren't grindy." Just so.

2. Combat - Bang Bang Bang, fast and furious. What else can I say?

3. Returning Vets - I would say about half the people I've spoken to have been pre-NGE players who just returned within the last two months. I had visited SWG very briefly about six months ago when I had Station Access, and the population has most definitely increased since then. The Mos Eisly cantina is usually fairly active and the Theed cantina is beginning to see a resurgence (Flurry server). Also, wherever I have been questing, more often than not, other players are there doing the same thing, making it easy to group up.

4. Class Fun and Goodies - I had logged in my former Teras Kasi and speced her to Officer to see what sort of things classes get at later levels (she is 57). I went out to the field to look over my abilities. Hmmmm, medic supply drop...wonder what that does? "Clicks button" A guy pops up on my comm and tells me supplies are on their way. Within a few seconds I hear the sound of a ship and spin around to see one flying in at me and dropping a box at me feet. Ok now that was way too cool :) I opened the box and it was full of stimpacks that group mates could take out to use for self heals.

I had another skill called Reinforcement which says it calls a pet to aid me. In flies another plane and out comes a soldier ready to assist me. Where else do you see stuff like this? I know I never had before and just absolutely loved it.

5. Entertainer - A big two thumbs up on the entertainer changes. I had both a master dancer and master musician at one time. Now, along with Image Design, the three are rolled into one. They have been given wonderful buffing abilities...stats, increased experience, reactive heals, tradeskill buffs, just to name a few. The buffs are required to be given in such a way that can't be macroed, so gone are the afk buffers from the past. They've been given the ability to make their own props (decorative swords, ribbons, glow sticks, etc. you wield while dancing). Also, just as combat classes do, they gain hitpoints and stats as they level, so those thugs who used to harass me in town now know better!

I logged in what was my master musician and was dismayed to find her a level 1 entertainer. I filed a petition and within a couple hours I was bumped up to level 50. Unlike combat and tradeskill, the entertainer levels very quickly and I reached 90 within two days of at keyboard play. A great way to meet other players. Having a lot of fun with her.

6. No Money Sinks - *glares at LOTRO* Previously, SWG was already not much of a money sink game. Buy armor, weapons, and then fluff stuff like housing and furniture. The Bazaar has always been very reasonable to use. It is even less so now given that they have removed item decay. Not good news for crafters but since much of the good stuff drops off mobs, the permanent decay doesn't make much sense anymore. So money hoarders rejoice!

Items They Should Address

1. Targeting - Oh boy where do I start with this one. So you see a thug, you left click it and bang bang and you stop shooting. Meanwhile he starts running different directions shooting at you. You frantically try to follow him with your mouse while left clicking till dead. This is the default UI. I went into options to have a look at keyboard settings. Seems I have to type "Y" to auto-lock a target and program my own key in for auto-fire since there is none by default. I chose the space bar. So I type my "Y" (only needs to be done once per character, not per session), left click to begin shooting, hit space bar to continue, and good to go using special skills. Phew! Oh but wait. I targeted another player who was standing in front of the mob. Click, click, click trying to retarget. Oh, I have to hit escape first to clear original target and then click!

I noticed I kept accidently attacking and firing my weapon. I discovered the right mouse button is keyed to secondary attack. I'm one of those who use my right mouse to look around, etc. while moving. So everytime I adjusted the camera or spun around with it, bang bang bang. Ok disabled. To be honest, not sure what a secondary attack is anyway. Guess I'll be fine without it.

I loot a few things and want to put some in my bank. It's been so long I forgot how to open up the bank. Left click? No that just shows the money. Right click? Didn't work. I look up the keyboard settings again. I see "Summon Radial Menu". Yeah that looks like what I'm looking for. And for that they have assigned the tilde key. The tilde key?? Well that explains why there are no creature resources for sale on bazaar. How many new players know to use the tilde key on creatures they have killed to harvest hides, bones, and meat? You see, when you kill an animal, there's the regular loot that you left click for and then there's the ummmmm tilde key loot.

I can understand having to use half your keyboard for maybe flying a spaceship but for regular gameplay it seems a bit much. Granted, after two weeks, I'm getting the hang of it and in the swing of things. But given that their intent was to make the game enjoyable to a wider audience, this should be high on priorities.

2. Grouping Levels - When my husband and I played together pre-NGE we had both mastered our professions and were able to kill mobs together. However, his profession choice resulted in his being a level 80 combat profession while mine is level 57. We attempted to group together for some missions and neither one of us got experience. I learned that you can only group with someone within five levels of you.

It's my understanding SOE has been adding things to SWG to entice pre-NGE vets back in. Now why would you bring us all in at varying levels and none of us can play together? I can understand the 5 level restriction on other games. But when you've modified your game so that everyone is scattered level-wise, you need to address that. Either make everyone who had a master combat profession all level 80, or let us group together.

I thought I would make an attempt to catch up to him. I grabbed a couple missions and headed out. I looked at my bar when I was done and it hardly moved. There is no way I am doing this by myself for 23 levels so I'm abandoning her for the time being.

3. Crafters - I had a master tailor previously and wanted to see what it was like to start again. The first few levels went by quickly, but at about level 20 it became a grind. I made it to 24 and couldn't take it anymore. I was still making the same pet food I made at level 1 earning the same experience for it. While my combat player was given the legacy quest which gained her two vehicles, my crafter was told to make a few items for people and then they sent me on my way. I kept returning to the original quest giver every few levels to see if he offered more but he'd tell me he had nothing for me at this time.

At level 15, I got a pop-up of an item received. Oh did I get my vehicle maybe? I looked in my inventory. It was an item to put on display in my house. Given that I was about as dirt poor as they come, that would be sitting in my bank for quite some time. Finally at level 19, the original quest guy had an option for me to say I need a vehicle. I had been hoofing it quite far to gather my resources so it was a welcome gift. I sold a few backpacks and some pet food, but it seemed clear that this class seemed more geared toward the player who had an existing character with money to fund the leveling up process.

4. Another Quest Line After Legacy - Those of us stuck in the 50's are a bit clueless as to where to go and what to do. And we also need a way to get armor and weapons, as the generic stuff we logged into has left most feeling pretty gimpy. If you really want to pull the vets back in, offer something similar to Legacy as an alternative to mission grinding and a means to gain armor and weapon upgrades. These missions really have been a lot of fun and I don't mind leveling this way.

So in summary, is SWG fun to play in its current state? HECK YEAH. And to be honest, it has been more fun than I've had in more recent MMO's. I'm a little concerned about hitting the later levels. I've heard when Legacy stops, it turns into a grind. So at this point I'm not setting down any houses yet and settling in. But I sure do plan to continue to play for awhile yet. It really has been a pleasant surprise and not at all the doom and gloom that often gets portrayed.

For anyone returning to a combat profession, I'd suggest starting over. You can now have two characters per server, so you can start on the same server as your original if need be. Starting anew will really give you a better perspective on the current game and result in less frustration.

12 comments:

Bildo said...

I have a free 21 days waiting to be played... might have to give it a go. I'm sort of bored waiting for PotBS.

Aspendawn said...

If you're on Flurry by chance, look for Sereena or Jesska. I have alts on a few other servers, but seem to have been sticking to these two more recently.

The Wicked Messenger said...

Just a week or so I felt a sudden urge to return to the game as well. I played in 2005, and had a lot of fun with a nice guild. Once the NGE hit I left within a month, it was so buggy it was barely playable.

But I must say it's a lot better now, the expertise system etc. Had a lot of fun the past week, even meeting some old friend from way back. And crafting is still better than in any other mmo out there.

Aspendawn said...

Yeah, overall their crafting is one of the best. I've been tinkering with my master tailor again, setting up vendors and putting items on display for sale in the house. You just don't find that kind of setup anywhere.

But as far as leveling, ugh. I think EQ2 and Horizons made that part more interesting. If I hadn't logged in to a level 90 tailor don't think I could have endured it again.

Jan said...

Aspendawn,

Thank you very much for this post. I really enjoyed reading it. I also think that nowadays, SWG has again become a great MMORPG. During the transition, there were a lot of flaws. But I think that this phase is over.

If you are between LVL 50 and 60 you should travel to Kashyyyk and do the quests there. After that, you can go to Mustafar.

I would recomment to take a look at this page:

Content by Combat-Level

Aspendawn said...

Glad you enjoyed it! I've been playing without the expansions that grant me access to Kashyyyk and Mustafar, but just this weekend we finally picked it up. Both expansions together in The Complete Online Adventures were 19.95, so not a bad deal.

My only concern from what I heard was that much of the Kashyyk missions involved space flight. Yeah I know you'd think that if I like SWG, I'd like flying spaceships but it's just not my thing. I'm one of those people who has trouble just using my spacebar to jump across things in games so imagine me with a whole keyboard of maneuvers to attempt! lol

But I may still yet give it a go to challenge my brain/fingers working in unison.

*tries to brush up on her German so she can read Jan's blog* German was my first language but haven't used it in so many years.

Jan said...

Actually, the majority of the Kashyyyk missions don not involve space-flight. When I was on Kash, I tried Rryatt-Trail, Etyyy, the Kerritamba Village and the Myyydril Caverns first. You don't need a ship for these quests.

Möge die Macht mit Dir sein (= May the force be with you)

:-) cya

Anonymous said...

I also returned to the game about 2 months ago after being gone for about a year and a half. I like where it's going and have hope now that things are getting steadily better instead of steadily worse.

If you're hooked up with a guild, you can usually get someone to fly your space missions for you--as long as you're grouped all you have to do is dock with another ship here and there, and let the professionals blast everything in sight. If not, try standing in front of the starport in Theed or Mos Eisley and scream, "I need help with a space mission!" Our guild has three space aces who are constantly helping newbies get their space-legs. And I'm sure they're not unique.

Overall I agreed with your post and found a similar experience myself. I just finished the Legacy Quest last night (okay, this morning), and aside from being nauseated at all the spinning around and *so* ready to be done with the unending hordes of critters on that last mission, I'm still glad I did it. Not thrilled about the rewards, but there was a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

If you get to Corbantis stop by Pilgrim's Rest (near Keren) and say "Hi" to any Octavian Pilgrims hanging around.

Anonymous said...

Nice post bro, I just recently returned from a 1-year hiatus with a RL friend. Let me tell you we were the #1 PvP guild on Bloodfin the DAY SWG went live. My e-buddy was the first to tame a Rancor...before the limitations were set on what kinda pet you could have out he had 3 Rancors out at one time and he demolished the guilds we were at war with.

Those were the good ol days, when you had a rancor the size of an inn.

Anyways, we just resubbed yesterday (Oct 13) and we are having a blast. The new expertise system & creature handling mechanic is really keeping me interested.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. I started 6 months ago and I havn't found any MMORPG game better than SWG. I would suggest if you are a vette coming back, to go to testcenter to learn the new aspects of the game. On Testcenter you can get everything you ever wanted immediatly. But if your looking to start over start on Ahazi. Ahazi is never down and I am the head of a wonderful guild that helps new jedi. Although we are happy to steer any new players in the right direction regarless of faction or profession. Next time you are on Ahazi contact Irafos! =p

Anonymous said...

Very constructive blog, thanks for posting this. I was also confused by the targetting system and how to bring up radial menus.

Daniel said...

secondary attacks are special things like force lightning, or special stronger melee attacks, mind trick etc. These use up "action points" which must recharge before you can use them again. Once you get the hang of using them, you'll see that they are very nice.
For example, my blaster I just got can hit around 90 damage. while my "force spark" has hit up to 780 at once.