Star Wars Galaxies Final Thoughts: The End of an Era

Star Wars Galaxies executive producer Tony Tyson looks back fondly on the now-defunct massively multiplayer online game.

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Out with the old and in with the new, you might say. The launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic has garnered much of the gaming world's imagination, but BioWare's online role-playing game was not the first massively multiplayer game to take place long ago, in a galaxy far, far away. We chatted with Star Wars Galaxies producer Tony Tyson, who looks back on his own game, which came to a close just last week, December 15.

GameSpot: Now that Star Wars Galaxies has come to an end, what are you most proud of accomplishing?

Tony Tyson: We are most proud of the integration of the Galactic Civil War into the game. Through battlefields, city and space invasions, and the leaderboards, we were able to make everyone feel like they were immersed in a galaxy-wide war. We also worked the GCW into the game's finale, where we were able to crown an ultimate winner.

GS: Not all of the changes made to the game were greeted warmly by the player base. Would you have done anything different?

TT: If we had to do it all over again, we would have waited another year before launching to make sure the ground and space games launched together. We also would have encouraged more in-depth discussion with the community surrounding the idea of any game modifications.

GS: Describe your emotions. What's it like to say good-bye to a game you have worked so hard to make the best it could be?

TT: Working on an MMO is almost as exciting as playing one. The players are

"If we had to do it all over again, we would have waited another year before launching…"
what make working on these games fun. We really enjoyed interacting with the players on the forums and getting to meet them in person at the SOE Fan Faires and other events. Knowing some of these players personally and seeing their emotions has been hard. Our approach was always to just keep working on the game and adding new things. In the closing months, we did a Galactic Civil War Space update and added atmospheric flight. The finale is going to be an enjoyable experience for the players as well. We want to end this game in the best way possible.

GS: Galaxies ended, but Star Wars is forever. What do you feel you contributed to the license and the lore?

TT: SWG was the first Star Wars MMO. For the first time ever, we gave players a chance to live in Star Wars. We drew inspiration from the Star Wars stories and we made contributions to it as well. Our team worked with LucasArts to introduce new characters and new stories within the fiction. One example was extending the Death Troopers storyline by involving the Nightsisters. In our Chronicles Update, we gave players the ability to write Star Wars stories themselves. So, yeah, we made lots of contributions. Oh, and the Galaxies game may end when the servers go down, but our players will keep the Galaxies stories alive for years to come.

Han and Chewie were only a couple of the familiar Star Wars characters you encountered in Star Wars Galaxies.

GS: Is there anyone you'd like to thank for their involvement or support?

TT: Wow. There were so many people that were involved in this game that I cannot even begin a list. My greatest thanks would have to go to our players whose dedication made everything we accomplished possible.

GS: What words of advice might you have for a developer launching an MMOG? What have you learned that you wish you'd known from the beginning?

TT: Launching an MMO is only the beginning. Once you get it into the hands of the players, everything changes. The best advice I can give any developer is to listen to the players input. No one can understand a game better than the gamers. Listen to their input and understand that a game is what the players make of it.

GS: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us.

Discussion

62 comments
JusticeCovert
JusticeCovert

@TheLionzHeart01 I played on Corbantis back in the day as well. Loads of great memories.

willard1975
willard1975

I haven't played SWTOR yet but from what i've heard it's just like any other WoW copy. It lacks the complexity of a real economy based game, no real crafting system in place. Just fight, kill and grind your way to max level. Don't get me wrong, Bioware is the king of RPGs, but the freedom and complexity that made SWG back in 2003-2005 was something special and i don't see Bioware capturing it like that. They still rock with their story telling and i salute their production values with having all dialogues voiced and it's "65 years of making it". But there is something special about doing your own business, logging in and checking your harvesters and factories each day on different planets (moving them around for better results). Experimenting to get the highest dps mod that you could later craft into your highly sought out laser rifles, and if you were successful, everyone on the server was buying from you. Combat, Crafting and Social. The key ingredients for a MMORPG.... Something SWG had but lost.

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

@pot-noodle yeah i can see that, its a growing trend, to make games not for the sake of creating something unique, despite complexity... but so that it appeals to the lowest common market consumer.... eve is a good example, its not as big as wow, and its not trying to be, its doing its own thing...immensly complex game but i had alot of fun trying to learn it seem slike people are being robbed of any challenge, for the sake of more $... cant make a game too smart, too difficult, too challenging anymore

Gears_0f_L0ve
Gears_0f_L0ve

@hvypetals SERIOUSLY space combat sims are where things need to head! No more military shooters for a while.

hvypetals
hvypetals

ok now how about getting back to space combat sims instead of selling off your monkey island stockpile .

pot-noodle
pot-noodle

Did i just read that correctly? "We also would have encouraged more in-depth discussion with the community surrounding the idea of any game modifications." You had the chance too, but you ignored everyone to suit your own business model, you made the mistake of thinking that people wanted 8 "iconic" professions and a dumbed down console control system for a MMO, you ignored the fact everyone thought it was pants even when it rolled out, and then when the masses left the servers, you thought it was because of World of war craft when in fact it was because you DIDNT listen to your own player base. Had you chose to roll back the changes, i bet you would of been heralded as the best games producer ever, with the ability to admit you got it wrong. as for that last comment "Launching an MMO is only the beginning. Once you get it into the hands of the players, everything changes. The best advice I can give any developer is to listen to the players input. No one can understand a game better than the gamers. Listen to their input and understand that a game is what the players make of it." Bit late for comments like that isn't it?

BasiK3108
BasiK3108

@Defy_The_Fallen the thing is that your comment hurt people that actually love this game plus it was inaccurate because knights of the old republic wasn't an MMO it was an RPG... is just the way things work man, don't trip.

pot-noodle
pot-noodle

@SauhlGood, it wasn't that they killed it due to the minority, they killed it due to being scared of World of Warcraft, they saw how simple WOW was and decided that SWG was too complicated for the mass market, had they kept it the same as it was, but actually improved upon it, fixed things like the imbalance of professions, made JEDI a lot harder to obtain (instead of that stupid village trail, should of left it how it was with the holocrons) What they should of done, was look at games like EVE online, its about as complex as SWG was when it first came out and thats still going strong.

Defy_The_Fallen
Defy_The_Fallen

Aha my comment gets hidden because I shared my opinion, nice one.

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

they butchered their own game by listening to the "loudest" fans... hope bioware is paying attention

KyleGates
KyleGates

I just remember back before NGE...when literally anything was possible in the game. You had whole networks of trade and transactions going on to produce entire suites of in-game items. Guess theres always Eve for that now but whew...talk about your steep curve!

Caldrin
Caldrin

Sadly SWG died when they broke it by changing the way the game worked LOL.. but SWGemu lives on and works well :)

koraykorac
koraykorac

Dont worry SW:KOTOR join you very soon

TheLionzHeart01
TheLionzHeart01

One of the greatest MMO's ever made. Back in the golden era of this genre. TOTAL FREEDOM was what this game gave people. And on my server (Corbantis) nearly the entire server felt like family. It was like another reality I could escape too, and the social features this game offered were nearly limitless. The open world PvP was incredible, a 100+vs100+ battle was very common back then. The complexity of this game actually rivaled that of what EVE Online has today. Truly an epic game. To anyone that has never played this game, ignore the naysayers they have most likely either played this game only at launch OR during the NGE (new game enhancement) which was an entirely different game than the original. R.I.P. Pre-CU-CU SWG

TheLionzHeart01
TheLionzHeart01

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

brain56
brain56

@MrFinalFantasy I partly disagree. I think sometimes you should only listen to yourself as the gamer. If you tend to just receive inputs of others, you'll end up commercial and probably end up making another so-so mainstream game. I think you should listen more to your individuality for it's inputs from yourself which plant the seeds of creativity.

YodaOfTheEmpire
YodaOfTheEmpire

I can understand some Star Wars fans being nostalgic about Galaxies - but really, this was as big a fail as a game can get.

MrFinalFantasy
MrFinalFantasy

"No one can understand a game better than the gamers. Listen to their input and understand that a game is what the players make of it." a quotation every single developer must adhere to succeed.

willard1975
willard1975

I've got some really fond memories of this game. For example when killing various creatures alone to get jedi xp on endor, 25k meters away from the nearest spaceport. Then someone swooped by me to close so i ran home and hid in my house for two days just in case i got any visibility on the BH terminals... Hehe ;) R.I.P. SWG.

BigDawgSteve420
BigDawgSteve420

Man I loved this game back at launch and up to the CU/NGE "fixes". Its amazing how stupid some developers could be by launching a good thing and then completely changing it and taking a crap on what your community loved.

MichaelMorbid
MichaelMorbid

"Not all of the changes made to the game were greeted warmly by the player base." that line is perhaps the single most blind stormtrooper marksman understatement in the history of star wars since "Some fans don't regard jar jar binks as their favorite character."

lanasrj
lanasrj

Gamespot needs to sharpen their video features. Unprofessional

Samson089
Samson089

@Circlestrafe I think you are missing the point. It wasn't so much that people resorted to playing instruments, it's that they wanted to play instruments. There was literally something for everyone. I played for years with a few friends (pre-NGE) and I know people who never did combat, the entire game for them was a huge economy sim. They bought and sold materials, brokered deals for Krayt perls and gems and ran huge mining co-ops. There has been nothing close to this game since. I for one mourn its passing.

Circlestrafe
Circlestrafe

Looks back 'fondly'? The game sucked. Completely sucked! People resorted to playing instruments, joining bands IN game...that's how craptacular it was. It was an abomination and should never be spoken of again. EVER.

stakex007
stakex007

@BloodMist - Well said. There was and likely never will be anything quite like Galaxies back then. I played the beta for The Old Republic, and its not even close to the same. I don't even mean in terms of gameplay since it wasn't designed to have the same sandbox style. ToR just does not capture the feel of the Star Wars universe like Galaxies did.... not even close in fact. It just feels like playing WoW with lightsabers and a much ebtter story. Thats not to take much away from ToR. Its a solid game, and the story telling is great... but its no Galaxies.

GeorgeLelik
GeorgeLelik

I feel like I missed out big time on this one, did get a copy of it in 2006 (not sure if it was before or after the update), but had way too much lag to enjoy it.

CarlitosWay
CarlitosWay

I have to say, im a bit disappointed with this sit down questionnaire. SWG was a legend in the MMO genre. It put forth some of the most entertaining and extreme ideas in the hands of the players. Since its beginning it pushed forward to make an ultimate Star Wars experience for every player. It lasted MUCH longer than a lot of MMOs, even against the controversy. I believe a little more than 30 mins of walking around and 6 questions and vague answers is in order. This game alone has taught developers to listen to its player base, and use reason over profit when making big changes. Kevin, im a huge fan of your work, but this time i was really disappointed. I mean, the Doctors of Bioware went to the WallStreet opening bell, and this is the best we can do for SWG?

BloodMist
BloodMist

There will never be another MMO nearly as deep, rich, and interesting as this game was before the NGE butchered it.It was in many ways like actually living in the Star Wars universe, it was great.

Mr_Ditters
Mr_Ditters

@ToTs_00 SWG was a unique MMO. It was ingeniously conceived. You had to be very forgiving to appreciate what made it great. It had a lot of social interaction and interdependence among classes, the best crafting system, a deep economy, 32 skill based professions, a lot of territory to explore in a sandbox setting, player created cities, a lot of freedom and customisibility, player bounties (the funniest thing ever). When I first played this game, I was astounded by the bugs and balance issues. When I learned to look past the flaws, I had the best gaming experience i've had in 30 years of gaming--until it was ruined by SOE/Lucasarts. I haven't played this game in years, but I was sad when it shut down and was overwhelmed with nostalgia at the people I met and had so much fun with. SWG was truly a chapter in my life. Sounds pathetic but its true.

Mr_Ditters
Mr_Ditters

@Kevin-V He must be new to Gamespot. Only a legend such as yourself could pull off that tattoo. If it were me, I would be a doofus (not that I'd mind).

Wartotehlock
Wartotehlock

I like how they highlighted the part about having should of waited a year before launching and then just cutting out the rest, ouch!

stakex007
stakex007

@bojan_sokol - They were the New Game Enhancements. It was the NGE update that started the downfall of Galaxies. Basicaly In the summer of 2005 SOE launched the Combat Upgrade, which was suppose to be a fix to the major combat balance issues the game had. Later that year they released the Trials of Obi-Wan expansion which added quite a bit of content.... but issues remained with the combat. So instead of letting the players know what was up, shortly after TooW launched SOE announced a MAJOR change to the game that was to go live in just two weeks. Basically the NGE removed 21 or the 30 professions and changed the combat to a more action-RPG style. It also turned the Jedi profession from an extremely hard and time consuming thing to obtain, into a starter class. To top it off, a lot of the touted content from the ToW expansion was also removed just weeks after it was launched. While I personally didn't mind the changes, I must say it was the worst thing I have ever seen an MMO studio do from a PR standpoint. You do not change the entire game around without taking ANY player feedback, and if you do decide to do that..... you don't do it with two weeks notice. While the game lasted until 15 December 2011, SWG died for most people on 15 November 2005.

Kevin-V
Kevin-V moderator staff

@blackmagicmarkr -- I'm a doofus because I have a game tattoo?

ToTs_00
ToTs_00

Not to sound like an ass, but I'm legitimately surprised how many people are sad to see this game go since even before the game got that big overhaul I never heard very good things about it. Oh well, I glad to see a lot of people had fun with it while it lasted.

superpal5
superpal5

so which faction was named the winner?

Luminious0
Luminious0

I am an EX-GM for Star Wars Galaxies and let me say that we were just as frustrated about the NGE as were the players.

Luminious0
Luminious0

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Samox
Samox

Galaxies was the funnest game I have ever played, up until they completely destroyed it with the CU and NGE.

Mr_Ditters
Mr_Ditters

What I want to know is now that Sony has publicly acknowledged that the NGE was a big mistake, was anyone fired for that screwup? I mean the NGE was the worst design decision I've ever seen in any game. I think anyone who experienced that would agree. Not to mention that they were all arrogant about it and engaged in outright lies publicly (well documented). So was anyone fired? If not maybe I should get a job at SOE or Lucasarts so that I can have that kind of job security.

jmrwacko
jmrwacko

"I call BS on: "We also would have encouraged more in-depth discussion with the community surrounding the idea of any game modifications." They knew how the community felt about the combat upgrade, and they pushed it through to live trying to say the people criticizing the patch were a vocal minority; they were wrong. Then, a few months later, the developers pushed another, more radical change on the community in the form of the New Game Enhancements. That was the month my friends and I quit." That's why they said that's what they WOULD HAVE DONE had they been able to do it all again. Reading comprehension ftw.

jmrwacko
jmrwacko

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

jrjcobra
jrjcobra

Lucasarts has pretty much wrecked a good name with the constant ineptness but SWG will live on with swgemu

Defy_The_Fallen
Defy_The_Fallen

Is this really that big of a deal? I mean it wasn't a 'great' MMO, it wasn't until Knights of the old republic I payed any interest towards a star wars MMO.

megam
megam

I call BS on: "We also would have encouraged more in-depth discussion with the community surrounding the idea of any game modifications." They knew how the community felt about the combat upgrade, and they pushed it through to live trying to say the people criticizing the patch were a vocal minority; they were wrong. Then, a few months later, the developers pushed another, more radical change on the community in the form of the New Game Enhancements. That was the month my friends and I quit.

khterra
khterra

that girl is poiissoonnnnn

Bolt4Life17
Bolt4Life17

I pray for a day that a game has a crafting community, complexity, and economy like SWG.

Bolt4Life17
Bolt4Life17

[insert crap about how no one played it anymore even-though tons of people still did and there were always new people] I love when people try to make blanket statements that are supposed to represent everyone. Just because one may prefer WoW, as an example, doesn't mean others do.

blackmagicmarkr
blackmagicmarkr

Is that an assassin's creed tattoo on dude's forearm? what a dufus...