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John Smedley Answers Your Questions

Posted by Zonk on Wed Nov 16, 2005 12:48 PM
from the senator-smed dept.
Last week we asked you for questions about the Star Wars Galaxies 'New Game Experience'. You responded, forcefully and often frustrated. Mr. Smedley has taken the time to answer some of the most thoughtfully put questions, and while some of his answers are brief he answered your questions straightforwardly and honestly. Many thanks to Mr. Smedley for taking the time to talk to us. Read on for his responses to your questions.
The latest "Freebies" by Yerase (636636)
You've recently announced that you plan to give Jump To Lightspeed to previous subscribers who had not purchased it for Free, since it is required for the new intro Tutorial. This is similar to the decision to release the "Total Experience" pack for $30 that included the original game, JTL, and the second expansion "Rage of the Wookies", with an additional item (The Barc Speeder). Do you feel you have any obligation to reimburse the veteran players who payed the premium prices ($30) for each of these expansions when they were first announced (many times before they were even released)? Either monetarily or through in-game items?

John Smedley:
It's common in the game industry to release new versions of games that incorporate older content. In this case, SWG really is much better with both the ground and space games as one package, which is why we're offering them together. We are giving rewards to our veteran players in general, but not specifically in this instance.

OS X client? by Dark Paladin (116525)
I realize that this is a long shot, but with the rise of Mac sales and the upcoming change of Macs from PPC to X86, is there a chance if an OS X client? One of the reasons I believe that Blizzards WoW has done so well is because it allows both major desktop OS's to play together, rather than trying to partition on group on a separate server (or pretending they don't even exist, with all of those dollars itching to be spent).

John Smedley:
Unfortunately, no. I absolutely love Macs (I've got 2 at home myself). I wish we could do this, but it's enormously cost prohibitive if you didn't start out from the beginning with Mac development in mind.

Wouldn't it be easier to scrap the game.. by Jason1729 (561790)
...and start over completely with Star Wars Galaxies 2?

John Smedley:
No. While the scope of the new enhancements is large, it's built upon a very powerful underlying engine that gives us the ability to enhance the game in meaningful ways rather quickly.

Re:Will this update...? by kebes (861706)
Given the recent bad press surrounding some of Sony's intrusive software, what changes, if any, are you planning for the copy-protection and cheat-prevention aspects of the game's software. During these change-overs, are you planning on putting in any special software that will monitor the users, and/or software that will attempt to prevent copying the game? Can you guarantee that such software will not "cross the line" and do things not directly related protecting the game itself?

John Smedley:
No. We are a subscription-based service, and therefore this isn't necessary.

Why wasn't NGE announced on 11/1? by WCMI92 (592436) NGE was dropped on us on 11/2, the day AFTER we were charged for the Trials of Obiwan expansion. Why did you deliberately withold this announcement until it was too late for veteran players to cancel their pre-orders so they could play on Test Center to see if they liked the changes?

John Smedley:
Simply put: We made a mistake in the way we communicated everything happening within the game to our current players, and we apologize for it. We're offering refunds to all players who purchased the Expansion pack before 11/3 (when we announced the NGE). But we feel very, very strongly that our current players are going to enjoy the enhancements to the game. The content in Trials of Obi Wan is even more fun with the new game experience.

Re:Another important question from a player by TychoCelchuuu (835690)
Why have you chosen to answer questions here on Slashdot instead of on the Star Wars: Galaxies forums? Many players are already fed up with the lack of communication, especially with these sweeping changes being announced the day after many of us bought Trials of Obi-Wan. Don't you have more of a responsibility to paying customers than you do to promoting the game?

John Smedley:
There are long threads that I've started myself on our forums, but we have community representatives that are answering questions diligently on our forums already, and I'm very involved in what's being said. I'm trying to get the word out in other venues and we know that Slashdot has a wide reach into the online gamer audience in general and the SWG community. Btw, I try to personally answer all of the emails from our players that are written to me and I get a fair number of them each day from our players.

Non-Combat Classes? by by Alpha_Traveller (685367)
Commando, Entertainer, Jedi, Medic, Officer, Smuggler, Spy and Trader.

What if my daughter wanted to be a diplomat? Something tells me that's not the same as Officer. You mentioned each class would show up as a familiar Icon, and I wouldn't call Princess Leia any of the things above. Only three out of the nine are even remotely "non-agressive" in nature. That doesn't speak well for a game that was once geared to be more of a world to explore than just a massive wargame.

[editor: How would you respond to this reader, concerned about the overwhelming shift in emphasis from sandbox-style world to combat-heavy 'game'?]

John Smedley:
This is a really good question, and I think goes to the heart of why we made these changes. The name "Star Wars" carries with it a lot of expectations, and from the research we've done, we weren't delivering enough of the core Star Wars experience to people. Remember, SWG takes place right in the middle of the Galactic Civil War! We felt like we needed to focus on the core iconic professions rather than 34 different professions that weren't unique enough. It just made the game too hard for us to add content to and to balance properly. We finally saw the forest from the trees on this and made the right move.

We still offer professions for non-combat oriented online players who are more interested in the social aspects of the game. We still have the Entertainer position (which is about as non-combat as you can get), as well as the trader class, which encompasses all aspects of crafting and item creation within the game. Additionally, we have made it so that non-combat professions do not agro within the game, so that players who do not choose to fight will be able to move about the game world without worrying about aggressive mobs.

Returning players? by Minupla
With the complete revamp of the game will there be a returning player incentive program? Something so that those of us who left earlier can come back with a minimum of pain and check out the rework and see if it's something that is compatible with our particular playstyles?

John Smedley:
Absolutely! We're going to be offering free trials for download (or at retail stores) in addition to the all-new Starter Pack.

Why not fix the game? by Zonk
Overwhelmingly, the jist of many questions we recieved was "Why do this instead of fix bugs and expand existing content?" What led to the decision to make such a drastic change in the game's playstyle, given that there was still a large population of players who were very happy playing Galaxies as it existed two weeks ago?

John Smedley:
We didn't feel that we could "fix" the existing game without making these changes to the number of professions. Trying to add content and balance a game with 34 different professions was just proving too difficult. We would spend weeks working on content specifically for one or two professions, but that would come at the cost of neglecting the other 30+. I think when we made the game we went too far into the direction of a "sandbox" style of gameplay, when what we needed to do was balance that out with awesome Star Wars gameplay that gives the player the feeling of being heroic.

We also had the very basic business problem of needing to appeal to a wider audience of players in order to keep the game growing rather than seeing the audience dwindle down over time. At the end of the day, our decision came down to wanting to make Star Wars Galaxies the most incredible Star Wars experience ever. Even though we know these changes will be upsetting some of our players initially, we feel that once they see how awesome we can make the Galactic Civil War, and how cool the new Star Wars content is they'll feel like we made the right decision at the end of the day.

All I can say is: try it before you pass judgement. If you are a current player, log in and check out the game. If you are a player who has tried the game and left because it was not delivering the experience, come back. If you're a gamer who has been on the fence because of what you've heard about the game previously, grab the free trial and jump in. We have a free 10 day trail available on the website (http://starwarsgalaxies.station.sony.com/), which can be converted to the full version of the game at the end of the trial period. I feel that the enhancements we've made to the game have made Star Wars Galaxies the game it was always meant to be.

See you on Tatooine!

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  • Erm.... No. (Score:5, Interesting)

    I let SWG run my life for seven months. I became one of the most effective builders of Starships and Weapons on one of the biggest servers. (Ahazi)

    In the seven months I played there were two major game updates, both of which were reviled by the majority of the player base and touted as something wonderful by SOE. However, from commentary from both Lucasarts and SOE, it was highly apparent that the people in charge of this game were staring at WoW and thinking, "Star Wars is cooler than Warcraft, why aren't we rich?"

    Then they started to make it a clone of the Blizzard game. No matter how loud their player base screamed.

    The game is buggy, system-resource intensive, and the only reason I thought it was awesome was because of 1) the open 'jobs' style system, and 2) the incredible crafting system. Both of these things have been dumbed down in the NGE, from what I hear.

    Smedley's answers are all PR boilerplate and have nothing to do with the real reasons they are changing the game drastically. There are some incredibly cool things in the game still, (I once met a guy who had been playing since beta and loved that he could crawl through the grass and spy on people) but I consider the game fatally flawed by the people who run it not caring one bit about play experience- even as a means to the end of getting more subscribers. The entire design of the game is now based on, "This works for Blizzard, how can we copy it?" They don't seem to understand that you need a happy playerbase willing to bring their RL friends in, instead of an angry one that is embarassed about having gotten sucked into a huge marketing ploy and unable to desert their ingame friends.

    I would recommend to any of my friends that they run the other way from any SOE game. Period.
    Mothmar Friedsquid, former Ahazi Guru / Master Crafter.
    • Re:Erm.... No. by Guysmiley777 (Score:2) Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:08PM
    • Re:Erm.... No. by Kookus (Score:2) Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:26PM
      • Re:Erm.... No. by daeley (Score:2) Wednesday November 16 2005, @05:23PM
    • Re:Erm.... No. (Score:4, Funny)

      by dcollins (135727) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:34PM (#14045724)
      "Star Wars is cooler than Warcraft, why aren't we rich?"

      I get the impression that's been the general thought process behind every Star Wars game ever made.
      [ Parent ]
      • Re:Erm.... No. by chrish (Score:2) Thursday November 17 2005, @09:53AM
    • Re:Erm.... No. by cnelzie (Score:3) Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:37PM
      • Re:Erm.... No. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Karzz1 (306015) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @02:15PM (#14046045)
        (http://slashdot.org/~karzz1)
        In the live version, none of those bugs are present and it just works very well.

        You have got to be kidding me. If it works so well, how come there are 55 pages of comments in the "issues" thread alone??? -- check it out [sony.com].

        You must be some kind of SOE apologist. And for the record, I have 2 toons on TC (TC2 and TC5) -- I cannot tell the difference between the "live" game and testcenter.
        [ Parent ]
      • Re:Erm.... No. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fallen1 (230220) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @04:55PM (#14047559)
        (http://slashdot.org/)
        In the Old Game, I had to keep most of the graphics choices cranked to Zero to get consistent Frames Per Second performance, regardless of where I went. Even then, highly populated areas totally blew that down the tubes and gave me almost no FPS.

        In the NGE, I have been able to crank everything back up near the top again and I am obtaining VERY consistent FPS, regardless of where I am and how many people are in a given area.

        Emphasis added.

        Yeah, the reason is THERE ARE NO MORE HIGHLY POPULATED AREAS. Period. Coronet - dead. Theed - dead. Dant Mining Outpost - almost dead. I'm on Intrepid which is one of the suggested started servers with what was a damn good player base and active population. I came back right before the NGE went into effect so I could test the changes live. They suck ass for a MMORPG. They're not bad for a First Person Shooter style game. Unfortunately, SWG was supposed to be a MMORPG with a complex story and background and *d'oh!* a complex game to go with it. Not a dumbed down, 8-year-old's wet dream FPS game. The overwhelming response to both the Combat Upgrade and now the NGE is negative.

        SOE knows the players are leaving in droves and have been since the CU. This is the death spiral of a once cool game (pre-CU and definitely pre-NGE). Everything has been dumbed down (especially crafting) and you now have no choice in creating a "unique" character. Period. A jedi is a jedi is a jedi. A smuggler is a smuggler is a smuggler. And so on right down the line of, what was it?, "Nine iconic 'professions'". Pleaaaaaaase. Smedley and SOE need an icon up their ass for destroying the entire SWG: An Empire Divided experience.

        [ Parent ]
        • Re:Erm.... No. by cnelzie (Score:1) Wednesday November 16 2005, @09:14PM
        • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
      • Re:Erm.... No. by cnelzie (Score:1) Friday November 18 2005, @09:45AM
      • 3 replies beneath your current threshold.
    • Re:Erm.... No. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:42PM (#14045798)
      Yep. I quit Galaxies long ago but for the same basic reasons. I mean the game design was some of the best I'd ever seen. I loved the job based system, and when cities came out, I was ecstatic. For once in a game, there was real, useful, housing over some place just to store your shit. For once players could have a real impact on the game environment.

      However the devil is in the details and the problem was in the implementation. Sony just seemed to work as hard as they could to screw everything up. Here were the big ones for me:

      1) The patching system. They would issue patch after patch fixing game bugs. After a string of these, the game was up to a pretty good state, not perfect but free of major problems. Then a new patch would come out that introduced new content and everything broke again. It was as if they were basing it off of old code or something. This cycle just repeated over and over. I got sick of things being broke all the time.

      2) The removal of cool features to fix stupid problems. For example, when player-run cities came about there was the concept of a militia. The militia was appointed and could exert control over the city. Milita members could tell you to leave, and if you didn't, flag you as attackable by all milita, and they could then shoot you. It was nice, gave you direct control over your city. Ok but someone found a way to exploit it to gain experience. No big deal, experience was easy to come by, but instantly Sony removed it and it never came back while I was playing. So now jackasses would run all over your city being jerks, and there was nothing you could do. However...

      3) Refusal to deal with real problems. While they were removing cool features for non-issues, they'd never crack down on real cheating. People were creating insanely powerful cheat weapons and armour. Rather than just deleting all of it and banning the offenders they took forever to straighten things out, and didn't really do anything.

      The event that was one of the big ones that pushed me to quit was when the military bases in our cities were assulted by a cheater guild. We mounted a defence, and a big one (we were the largest Alliance guild on the server). However all our efforts were futile, we couldn't damage them, and they'd kill us instantly. Now amazingly enough we got a hold of a Sony CSR, he came out, observed what was happening and interviened. He told them they were cheating and their accounts had been marked, anything further, they'd be banned.

      So of course you know where this goes. An hour later they were back at it again. We managed to get a hold of the same CSR and he came back. We figured great, banned cheaters. Nope, he did NOTHING. He scolded them a bit and hemmed and hawed, but no ban. So, of course, they now figured they could do as they please, no repercussions.

      4) Total lack of balancing. Sony was always tweaking the class dynamics, but what it really got down to was there was no balance of combat classes. It wasn't too hard to design a tactic that was essentially unstoppable For things like taking out a military base. I never saw it get any beter in all my time there.

      So, now I play WoW. I personally don't think it's as well designed a game as Galaxies. It's well designed, don't get me wrong, but not as good. However the important part is it's well implemented. The game works well, and feels balanced. That's what really matters. You can plan and plan all you like, it's implementation that ultimately matters, and THAT'S what Blizzard does right.

      Personally, I don't trust Sony to be able to replicate it.
      [ Parent ]
      • Re:Erm.... No. by doorbot.com (Score:2) Wednesday November 16 2005, @03:06PM
      • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
    • Re:Erm.... No. by BlightCrawler (Score:1) Wednesday November 16 2005, @02:09PM
    • If SOE could ever figure this out... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sterno (16320) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @02:30PM (#14046181)
      (http://www.bigbrother.net/)
      They don't seem to understand that you need a happy playerbase willing to bring their RL friends in, instead of an angry one that is embarassed about having gotten sucked into a huge marketing ploy and unable to desert their ingame friends.

      This is such a critical thing and I think SOE has failed at this in more than one of their games. I've been a loyal player of PlanetSide since it came out and I ran into this exact problem. Initially the game was so buggy I found it very hard to recommend it to anybody. Eventually some of the kinks got worked out and so I got a friend to play. He ran into a bunch of bugs, got lousy technical support, and ended up leaving the game within a week of starting.

      The other problem I've run into with this game is that the hardware demands are so insane that many of my friends with older rigs just don't have what it takes to run it. I've got a P4 2.8, 6600GT, 2GB of Ram, a Raptor HD and I run it on a medium graphics settings and it's pretty playable but I still get slow downs in heavy battles. I'm running it on hardware that did not exist when the game was released and on medium setting it performs merely okay. That's tragic. So when I've got a friend with a slightly older graphics card and a sub 2Ghz system, it's rather difficult for me to recommend it to them.

      I've got a lot of friends that I think would totally love the game play, but if their experience is going to be one of low framerates and crashes, I'd be rather embarassed to recommend it to them. Thus the average person hasn't even heard of PlanetSide. Whenever I describe the game to somebody they think it sounds really cool, but they never heard of it because the game got such a bad reputation at release.

      So, SOE, if you want these games to have long term success, release them when they are ready, and release games that will run smoothly on average modern hardware. Sure you can have bells and whistles that will take advantage of the top of the line systems, but make it so it's playable by lower hardware. The time you spend on getting the kinks worked out and the performance issues resolve will be made up for in spades when you can get a game with a strong following for years to follow.
      [ Parent ]
      • I feel you bro by rinkjustice (Score:3) Wednesday November 16 2005, @03:17PM
    • Re:Erm.... No. by ShadeEagle (Score:2) Wednesday November 16 2005, @03:52PM
    • Re:Erm.... No. by Pollardito (Score:1) Wednesday November 16 2005, @06:16PM
    • Re:Erm.... No. by mmalove (Score:1) Tuesday November 22 2005, @12:04PM
    • Re:Erm.... No. by harrkev (Score:2) Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:15PM
    • Re:WoW clone, but why?!?! by Anonymous Coward (Score:2) Wednesday November 16 2005, @02:54PM
    • Re:WoW clone, but why?!?! by C0rinthian (Score:3) Wednesday November 16 2005, @04:57PM
    • Re:Hmmm... this reminds me of something... by Nullsmack (Score:3) Wednesday November 16 2005, @05:20PM
    • 5 replies beneath your current threshold.
  • Thank You (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Krast0r (843081) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @12:50PM (#14045319)
    (http://www.midnightartists.co.uk/ | Last Journal: Monday September 19 2005, @07:55AM)
    "Simply put: We made a mistake..." - not something we are hearing often enough from some companies recently, not naming any names.
    • Business Model and Gaming Model by queenb**ch (Score:2) Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:14PM
      • Re:Business Model and Gaming Model (Score:5, Informative)

        by merreborn (853723) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:59PM (#14045939)
        Since we were "one of the violent mobs" he mentions, many of the changes were directed at us and others like us specifically

        I think you've misunderstood some old MUD lingo. The only use of the term "mob" in TFA is:

        Additionally, we have made it so that non-combat professions do not agro within the game, so that players who do not choose to fight will be able to move about the game world without worrying about aggressive mobs.

        Wikipedia's definition of this type of "Mob":

        A mob is a non-player character (NPC) or monster in a computer role-playing game (especially MUDs and MMORPGs). It is widely accepted as being short for mobile object or simply mobile, stemming from its use in the earliest text-based MUDs, and is commonly written either mob or MOB (the latter more often considered an acronym of Movable Object Block, a term for any on-screen moving object, or sprite)

        Long story short, they're saying Bantha's won't attack your Dancer, no matter how close you walk to them now. They weren't talking about player killers.
        [ Parent ]
    • Re:Thank You by Acius (Score:2) Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:24PM
    • Re:Thank You by TimboJones (Score:1) Wednesday November 16 2005, @06:02PM
    • 2 replies beneath your current threshold.
  • Not far enough (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the computer guy nex (916959) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @12:55PM (#14045377)
    "Absolutely! We're going to be offering free trials for download (or at retail stores) in addition to the all-new Starter Pack. "

    I am a former long-time SWG customer (6+ months). There were many broken promises within that timeframe. I have no motivation as a former customer to seek out a free trial and attempt to become 'addicted' again.

    Sony needs to pony up and offer an economic incentive to resubscribe. Free month for former subscribers, half-price 3 month subscription, etc.

    A short trial isn't enough to bring unhappy customers back.
  • Amazing (Score:2)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:00PM (#14045411)
    (http://haltingpoint.blogspot.com/)
    He actually answered the hard hitting questions pretty straight forward, AND admitted their mistakes!

    Although I'm a little confused by his answer to responding to questions on the forums. If he had responded, and they had community reps who WERE diligent, why would people be complaining about it to the degree they are and in the numbers they are?

  • by dingfriesaredone (931558) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:10PM (#14045498)
    Ugh, this is utterly ridiculous. I played SWG for about 6 months from release and in that the playing experience quickly went downhill with every new "upgrade" that sony came up with. I currently play on one of the many free Lineage 2 servers and the play experience only gets better with time. This is more than likely due to the admin staff having to keep the player base happy in order to survive on donations and perhaps make a little coin to boot. It's amazing what kind of gaming experience you can get when your gaming provider actually listens to their loyal customer base. Unfortunately it seems sony is both deaf and retarded.
  • by jt418-93 (450715) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:13PM (#14045530)
    smedly is an idiot. the game is going down in flames. the only good thing you will read anywhere are by soe employees posting them. jedi is broken, you must buy the new expansion to level, there are no quests for characters > level 30.

    the new targeting system is a crack monkey's idea of a joke. read the forums and see the death of swg. i was there from launch in 03, and canceled my accounts today.

    the game is dead
  • Levels? (Score:1)

    by gallwapa (909389) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:18PM (#14045567)
    (http://moaph.blogspot.com/)
    Woa when I played SWG( Launch) there wasnt any levels...when did this happen? It was all XP based per-skill. I might give it a go, becuase im EFFIN tired of DAOC :( ...can't get groups and theres no social community in place to make new friends... Looking forward to darkandlight, and itl ooks like settlers of garaneth will come out on the 17th
    • Re:Levels? by siraim (Score:1) Wednesday November 16 2005, @02:13PM
      • Re:Levels? by gallwapa (Score:1) Wednesday November 16 2005, @02:26PM
    • Re:Levels? by SpacePunk (Score:2) Thursday November 17 2005, @10:55AM
    • Re:Levels? by gallwapa (Score:1) Wednesday November 16 2005, @02:13PM
    • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
  • by Viper Daimao (911947) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:20PM (#14045589)
    (Last Journal: Tuesday June 12, @07:38PM)
    can I shoot Greedo first?
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:21PM (#14045601)
    And although it's a little late to be asking this now, what's with the Flash 8 crap on the new website?

    You guys at SOE allergic to HTML or something?

    For another interesting experience, why do the forums at http://forums.station.sony.com/swg [sony.com] report a "server error" when you try to read them on Mozilla (with or without Javascript, with or without cookies), but work fine on IE?

  • Usual SOE SWG speak (Score:4, Interesting)

    by portwojc (201398) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:27PM (#14045663)
    (http://wkrp.com/)
    Everything is " fine " come back you'll like it...

    Simply put: We made a mistake in the way we communicated everything happening within the game to our current players, and we apologize for it.

    Translation. They had the CU go into place just before Rage of the Wookies. I canceled my expansion and I'm sure others did too. Now they learned. Hold out till after the latest round of extra dough comes in. Then turn the game upside down.

    I'll come back only when SOE isn't in charge of it. It's funny the rest of us can see it they just can't.

    Oh by the way SOE if you hadn't released the game 6-12 months early you wouldn't be in this mess right now. Everyone else takes a step back to do it right and look what they have.

  • Two Years Here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ddx Christ (907967) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:43PM (#14045809)
    (http://www.metalmachinemusic.com/main.php)

    This guy is just talking out of his ass. The only way to describe Star Wars Galaxies is perhaps through an overnight liquid culture of e.coli. It started off buggy and lacking content, then shot up exponentially over the next few months. These were times when I had the greatest amount of fun and I eventually reached that "alpha-class" of Jedi. That was fun too. But definitely not the highest point. It was much more fun to group with a bunch of buddies, go out into the middle of nowhere and discover something new. "Hey look, a cave!" and there'd be a whole area full of droids in the middle of what was a desert.

    After the Jump To Lightspeed expansion, all subsequent expansions started looking more and more like money-making schemes that provided little to no content. ToOW was just to have a large renewal of subscriptions and to lock in players for the NGE. He is not sorry. He knows only the most furious customers will actually seek and attain a refund; others will be locked in from uncertainty.

    I'm sorry but there just isn't an excuse for changing the game overnight aside from making it a dumbed down version to port over to consoles. After the "combat upgrade" SWG just started to follow a cookie-cutter path until the eventual complete and utter downfall: NGE. They took all the unique aspects out of the game and made it SUCK because they have no idea what they're doing and most of all they fail to listen to their unhappy customers (these changes negatively affected gameplay).

    I will never recommend a game by SOE. A Christmas or two ago I would have said it was the best MMORPG I've played. Now I'm looking for a new home, possibly DnL. Good thing the NGE came, though. Now I can finish these college applications.
    • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
  • "Rage of the Wookies"? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Animats (122034) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:49PM (#14045852)
    (http://www.animats.com)
    From the people who brought you the Star Wars Holiday Special [bluntproductions.com] - Rage of The Wookies!

    We'll be back with "The Return of Jar-Jar" after these messages.

  • by Om (5281) * on Wednesday November 16 2005, @01:51PM (#14045885)


    I went back to SWG after having played it when it came out. The cities were bustling with people. Theed was truly a hang out. I remember walking into the tavern, and there would be so many people dancing, playing instruments, giving table dances, etc, that you couldn't even find a seat.

    I went back a few months ago, and saw that everywhere was a ghost town. It was flat out sad. The taverns were empty, save for a few NPC. The city streets were deserted. I stood in front of the once bustling Starport in Theed and could hear my own voice echoing across the pavement.

    The problem now is that the servers need to merge. Plain and simple. The problem that Sony faces, is that the design of the game prohibits this. When a game dwindles in population, merging servers is the only way to cluster the remaining people back together so they can actually feel like they are playing an MMOG. Sony, however, cannot do this easily. With the (awesome) ability to place your own house anywhere, and create your own player-made cities, this brings to the front an entirely unique problem.

    If you merge servers, what do you do about the cities that overlap? What about people's houses? Who's house takes precidence? Should we just convert everyone's property into items in their bank and have them start all over? Would this piss anyone off?

    So yeah, SWG is in deperate need to merge their player base! If they can figure out a way to cut their servers by half (at least), and get people back together (and i'm not talking just together in one particular city), then I'll definitely give it another shot. As it stands now, it's just a sad place to run around in.

    ++Om

  • Impressed (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 16 2005, @02:04PM (#14045977)
    This is one of the least 'marketing oriented' responses I think I've seen from a game company in a long time (if you take into consideration the dribble we normally see from game companies, particularly online games).

    I can understand where some of the existing players would be upset by the changes, but you have to admit something had to be wrong with the game. Star Wars is one of the most well known IP's in the world, and just the game's player base hovers at around 250k, a fraction of the subscribers of the top online games?
  • If you want the truth (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ahmunhotep (931568) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @02:19PM (#14046075)
    John Smedley:
    There are long threads that I've started myself on our forums, but we have community representatives that are answering questions diligently on our forums already, and I'm very involved in what's being said. I'm trying to get the word out in other venues and we know that Slashdot has a wide reach into the online gamer audience in general and the SWG community. Btw, I try to personally answer all of the emails from our players that are written to me and I get a fair number of them each day from our players.

    Where? I have not seen long threads that he has started. What I see are long threads begging SoE to do things differently from their paying player base that go unheeded.

    John Smedley:
    This is a really good question, and I think goes to the heart of why we made these changes. The name "Star Wars" carries with it a lot of expectations, and from the research we've done, we weren't delivering enough of the core Star Wars experience to people.

    Show us the research if you have done any. Well we definately are not getting our expectations now.

    John Smedley:
    Remember, SWG takes place right in the middle of the Galactic Civil War! We felt like we needed to focus on the core iconic professions rather than 34 different professions that weren't unique enough. It just made the game too hard for us to add content to and to balance properly. We finally saw the forest from the trees on this and made the right move.

    Weren't unique enough?? You could put together nearly any combination you wanted to. How does 9 based on Star Wars Characters make them any more unique? You went from a system where a player could mix and match as much as they liked to a system where EVERY character of any one chosen profession is EXACTLY alike.

    You have also said that in the 'coming months" a second character slot would be added. It seems I remember a comment which amounted to the same thing.. that was the revamp for Rangers and Smugglers and that promise was made 2 years ago. I will believe it when I see it.

    As for making the right move, I do not think you would know the right move if it walked up and bit you in the ass.

    IF you want the real truth about what is going on with SWG I suggest you go to sites who have reviewed SWG post NGE, or better yet come and visit the Official SWG forums. There you will find out how much we "love" the NGE. Sure there are the usual SoE fanboys but I think you will find the comments overwhelingly negative. Hey, I have an idea maybe SoE and Mr. Smedley should conduct some research.....from thier own player base, that would definately be something new and exciting. Something needs to be new and exciting because what has been done to SWG surely is not.
  • GG SOE (Score:1)

    by aleatory_story (862072) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @02:29PM (#14046171)
    I've played more than a healthy amount of SOE games (EQ, EQ2, PlanetSide, SWG). Among all of these titles, SOE has consistently contradicted themselves through changes that go against their previous "philosophy" of the game's design. However, nothing even compares to this new SWG change. I played it last night, and it is the most bizarre thing I have ever encountered in a MMO. Upon logging into my character, I was asked to select an "iconic" Star Wars class, based off of popular characters--each class with a photo of these characters next to them, just in case anyone playing the game wasn't quite sure of the names. Additionally, you can "preview" the class, and watch an extremely corny gameplay video that looks laughably like a bad movie trailer. Combat is like some pseudo-action console game with horrible controls. It's so bad, it's hard to even imagine what the developers were thinking when they released this. The engine was not made for this kind of gameplay. Now, the most important question is: When does Vanguard come out?
  • Been playing for almost two and a half years... crafter, merchant. I loved this game. It captured my attention and kept it. Since the CU I have played less and less. Most of my friends have quit. I logged in to play yesterday and spent a significant part of the session just trying to learn how to do simple stuff. The new interface sucks and is, as someone previously mentioned, obviously dumbed down for a console port. I expect a "surprise" announcement soon or in conjunction with PS3 launch. They have mercilessly forgotten and short-shifted crafters. We've been combined into a few crappy professions. Sexist even (domestic branch for tailor, combined with chef.) Obviously they don't give a shit about any women that play. Combat combat combat combat combat combat combat combat. That's all they freaking care about. The twitchy teenage boy gamer. Conversion from crafter to combat gets you nothing (we are level one in the new system since we didn't have combat skills. Combat pros can convert to master crafters no problem though). No Elder titles for us (as was promised to all previous Master professions). And merchants... wow they screwed us on that too.So many items that are converted into useless crap. Things that you buy off vendors that convert into NOTHING. No decay. Buy once keep forever. I'm a paying customer with four accounts - for two and a half years. I want my game back.
  • by Lord Kaio (687564) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @02:36PM (#14046259)
    I played Galaxies for over a year since it's initial launch and I was pleased that it seemed to be moving in the right direction from the start. At the beginning there was nothing, lots of open ground, not much to do, so many bugs and it was almost all on foot. I have to give them credit though because alot of the server related bugs were cleared up, they added in Player Cities, Creature Mounts, Vehicles, tons of items for in your house and some minor quest materials. I was more than happy just hanging out with my friends in game, flying around on a planet, just watching a family of Rancors from the top of a hill. It felt nice not having to worry about levels like many other MMO's. I was working on a Creature Handler/Pistoleer/Medic template so I could have a pet tank for me while being able to damage from range all the while healing myself and my pet. It was a great solo template...keyword being was.

    Then the changes started happening. The biggest change was that they rushed the Jedi making experience out into the world. When we all first started, there was no guide on how to make your character into a Jedi. Sure there were tons of theories, but none were proven true. Then finally, one person came forth and had ascended into being a Jedi. While I'd like to think that it's just coincidence, I doubt that the whole Jedi path was being independently explored at the same time and finished within days of each other on other servers. Soon enough, word was out that if you mastered 5 (I think it was 5 at the time) of the professions that were randomly determined for you at character creation, you could become a Jedi as well. Thus, the grind began. The numbers of players never seemed higher, but the number of people truly "playing" dropped incredibly. People were taking advantage of the macro system to master the social classes in hours. Cantinas were filled with AFK dancers and musicians spamming their specials. Crafters were flooding the Bazaars (think auction houses in data terminal style) with goods that they were making in mass quantities to fly through a profession. Harvesters were everywhere, houses went up for storage more than anything else. This led to an economic collapse, driving most of the "true" crafters to close up shop and leave since the market was flooded with cheap mass produced goods that kept prices low.

    Instead of trying to slow this influx of people trying to become Jedi, SOE decided to help everyone by revealing that Holocrons (rare drops in game) could be used to tell you the next profession you need to master. So holocron prices jumped into the millions of credits and "Holo-grinding" was born. To make matters worse, for Christmas, everyone received at LEAST 2 holocrons, some somehow managed to get 4 (single character per server, so no alts sharing holos). There were crafty people though that would use an alt on another server to trade to someone to get their alt's holos on their main server. Everything focused on the holos and the quest to be a jedi.

    Well, if you don't know already, it worked, Jedi started popping up everywhere. While most people thought that a Jedi should be a hermit and secretive, you'd see them walk into crowded cantinas and pull out their lightsaber to the "Oooo's" and "Aaah's" of the crowd. Most people pushed for massive experience loss on Jedi Death, or even Permadeath (i.e. start your jedi from padawan). What did the Jedi's get punished with? Item decay like the rest of us in the long run, and with this new patch, nothing.

    Now that Jedi are covered, lets talk about PvP. Galaxies always felt like it needed PvP, Imperials vs. Rebels is the perfect backdrop when racial and class differences are the same on either side of the fence. The problem was that classes weren't balanced at all. A Teras Kasi Artist (Think Monk from EQ) could go into a den of Rancors and emerge unscathed carrying a full pack of Rancor teeth and hide. My lowly Creature Handler/Pistoleer/Medic template let me take on one at a time, but I'd be ripped a new
  • Wrath of the MMORPG nerds! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by copenja (840759) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @02:42PM (#14046303)
    John S. should be fearful, because nothing in the internet is as fearsome as the wrath of a bitter MMORPG nerd!!!!!!!! These guys are bunch of super pissed-off dudes! Messing with them is like stirring up a hornets nest. It's just isn't a good idea.
  • by SlashDPC (931574) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @02:46PM (#14046346)
    I've seen the game go down hill. SWG has always had potential, SOE is just to stupid to realize how to handle it. The CU fixed a lot of the issues w/ the game while creating alot of issues in the process(OMG, what a suprise!). Now, the game is just plain crappy. What the first poster said is correct. This is nothing more then PR bullcrap. We've seen this so many times in the past, it means nothing now. Keep on trying SOE, you'll all be out of a job in 2 months anyways. Slash on Gorath Account expires in 2 days
  • by Snaller (147050) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @02:53PM (#14046402)
    (Last Journal: Tuesday June 26, @08:41AM)
    If you don't want to answer why don't you just say no - ooh right, that would require integrity.
  • by caffeinatedOnline (926067) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @03:21PM (#14046706)
    (http://www.caffeinatedonline.com/)
    I bought SWG when it first came out, and seriously (40+ hours a week) played it for over a year. With each new 'change' that Sony enacted, they would add 1 or 2 'neat' things, but remove just as many if not more. Through out the time that I played, the communication to the player base was beyond horrible. I remember 3-4 day waits on in-game customer service tickets, including being stuck in geometry and missing items from known bugs.

    Still, there was the call of the 'jedi' that kept me playing. At first, no one knew how to unlock the vaunted jedi slot. Sony was mum on the subject, and the rumors and speculations were enough to keep a browser window open to the forums, if only for the entertainment value.

    Many players remember the release of the holocrons, the first real hint as to how to unlock the jedi. After chasing hermits around the desert, collecting badges based on the oh-so-rare spawn of a certian encounter, this was it? Become a master so-and-so? All this hype, the entire star wars universe at your hands to come up with a method of unlocking the best class in the game, and all Sony could come up with was a grind? Not only a lame method, but 6+ months into the game before the files for the jedi were even introduced to the client? Many people, including me, took this as Sony's way of releasing the game without the jedi content, and quickly coming up with something when the player population really started demanding some answers.

    I stuck with it, and after more mouse clicks building walls, doing dance moves, customizing droids, and changing hair styles, I finally saw on my screen the words "You have become force sensitive". OMG... Looking back on it now, it must have been comical for my wife as I screamed in joy, jumping around the room, dancing in extacy.

    Once I set up my jedi account, and made my first light saber, I remember the envious comments of my friends and guildmates as I showed them the glowing purple stick. Finally, I had made it to the end game!!

    Then I actually started to play with the jedi character. It was the worst experience I have ever had in a MMORPG. Mind you, I bought and tried to play Anarchy Online the first day it came out. The system was horrible, the amount of experience you needed was absurd, and half of the jedi powers were bugged. Not only that, but to make a lightsaber, which wore down at an alarming rate, you needed either a rare drop from a Krayt dragon, or a rare drop crystal. And even if you found a crystal, you were never assured that it was a good crystal, as more then half caused stat loss.

    Jedi was a disappointment. What was touted as the ultimate character on the game, ended up as the worst. My wife got pregnant, I got responsibilities, and some guy in France got my jedi off e-bay for $1600.
  • by bullterror (412884) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @03:28PM (#14046762)
    I'm not big into massive rpgs, but I've been an avid star wars fan and gamer for about 10 years. The tragegdy of the prequel trilogy was off-putting, but there are still plenty of cool star wars experiences if you ignore the new movies (I'll admit EP3 was pretty decent) Anyone who is into RPGs should definately checkout knights of the old republic 1, it has an incredible story.

    I started playing SWG. I built up my character from 0 to master smuggler. Then as it turned out, master smuggler sucked, so I went master commando. To get to master, it required weeks of killing NPCs. Player vs. player combat didn't get you anywhere. I quickly found out that the jedi in the game were so powerful it took a team of bounty hunters to take them down, and they all had the maturity of 13 year olds, which I'm sure they were. Jedi sucked. Then I tried the galactic civil war, I joined the rebels. I quickly found out that having a flamethrower, rocket launcher, composite armor, and grenades were no match for a wooden stick with a poison tip that does "damage over time" In fact, such weapons were all looted, and could sell for hundreds on ebay. So here I am fighting a stormtrooper who kills me with a wooden stick. And I had armor. It was rediculous. The problem is they built an RPG with a dungeons and dragons mentality instead of a star wars game.

    They could have set the time period in the prequels to have the jedi thing make sense. They could have made the galactic civil war make sense. It was a good RPG, but it wasn't "star wars" It reminded me of a quake 3 star wars skin. It looked like it, but it wasn't. I was even starting to wonder what other RPG they took the source code from, because from the ground up, it did not have the feel of star wars.

    Jump to lightspeed wasn't even as much fun as the 5 year old "x-wing alliance" title, which was great, and the graphics weren't much better. The ground game had no connection to the space game.

    So I quit. Now that the game has changed, I'll probably try it out again. It sounds like it might finally be fixed. Of course, the players that were lucky enough to own a poison stick are going to be very upset, but frankly, if every one of them left, and all the 13 year old jedi, the game will be much more fun.

    By the way, I'm not sure if the revamps will even put an end to the poison stick thing, but I'm willing to have a look.
  • by Jhazmin (931596) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @03:43PM (#14046915)

    John Smedley: There are long threads that I've started myself on our forums...
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v464/Jhazmin/SWG /smedlylies.jpg/ [photobucket.com] You disgust me, Smedly. You are no Star Wars fan. ("Jedis." "What is a pikeman, and why is it in SWG?") Have you EVER watched the movies?

    You don't know what players want. I do not know a single player that ever said "i think there are too many confusing professions." I defy you to EVER find such an example. These changes have little to do with the what the player wants. They are because you didn't make the TIME to work on the bugs in the game, because you neglected to build on a foundation that you were not worthy of. Because the devs and programmers didn't think things through, glaring bugs and huge windows for griefing were allowed into the live servers time and again. You did not listen to your beta testers. Not in beta, not at the cu, and certainly not at the nge.

    How is 9 professions more "unique" than 34 various ones we could mix and match to suit our styles and whims? There is nothing mroe unique in this system. This game, when it debuted in 2003, was a beautiful wonderful innovative thing. The fact that it has decomposed into it's current state rests solely on the shoulders of soe/la. We as a playerbase would have done ANYTHING to help this game succeed. It is Star Wars, man. It is EPIC. How can you fail at making a successful Star Wars game!?

    The amount of content you could have made with the resources available (comics, movies, eu, novels, mini movies) is mind boggling. This game had so much potential. It was so exciting and wonderful and new. You squandered it all. This game is now a mockery of it's once innovative and expansive self. You should be ashamed.

    How dare you say that this new nge is how the game should have been, Smedly. How do you have the NERVE to come here and blatantly lie. I have supported three accounts in SWG. I have been a loyal customer, I have loved it so so much. I have devoted countless hours and hundreds of dollars to this game, because it was different - because it was Star Wars - because I always had the hope it would be better. But it never got better. It just kept getting worse. This is, to me, a tragedy. How you can say these things with a straight face, is beyond me - oh wait it, isn't. I guess you will be getting more money this way, at least in the short term. But if you think the console gamers will support 3 accounts for 2+ years like I and other vets have, you are sadly mistaken. It is too bad that I am not ICONIC enough for you. And hey, whatever happened to "Experience the greatest Star Wars Saga ever told: YOUR OWN!

    This new nge is so bug ridden and unattractive, it is shocking to me that you could label it as ready for live. By the devs own admission, the quests past lvl 30 are not completed. The UI is not completed. The art for several screens is not completed. How can you release this mess to your paying customers?

    - The targeting system: it is SO fundamentally flawed I cannot even begine to wrap my mind around it. Who ever thought that it was a good idea for you to target every single thing you moused over was insane. For pvp, all you need to do is toss in a bunch of coverts and hey, no one can fight. The targeting makes the nalargon and omnibox nearly unplayable (but hey i guess you dont care about those pesky entertainers.) It is immediately obvious to me how this system can be exploited and used as a tool for grieving, and just plain annoying in day to day actions.

    - The movement. Uhm yeah - I'm not here to play an fps. I don't use fps style of movement in my gaming. There has always been the option to have whatever ui style you wanted and 6 or so different default maps to chose from. That was wonderful. a customizable UI and control system is friendly and comfortable. T
  • Not an SOE fan!! (Score:1)

    by Dubliner Macmanus (931590) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @03:46PM (#14046931)
    Every game I've tried from SOE has been buggy, incomplete and not well planned. And to top it all off...they stole $45 subscription fees from me. I played EQII for several months hoping the game would be EQI but with more and better content. I have to admit I liked a good portion of EQII but quickly came to realize it paled in comparison to World of Warcraft. I canceled my EQII account using SOE's webpage. I went through all the steps even answered their "Why are quitting questions?" (Just to tell them their game was sucking)and closed my account. Everything was fine until 3 months later I noticed I was still getting charged (for some reason I didn't see the previous 2 months bank statements or overlooked somehow) for my subscription fee. I called up SOE to correct this but of course I couldn't get through so I used their Online Chat service. I told the CSR what had happened...explaining that I closed out my account online and it told me my account was canceled but I was still getting charged. I told him to please make sure my account was canceled and to refund the 3 months I didn't play. He then said ok...your account is canceled now. I asked about the refund on the 3 months and he said he couldn't do that and couldn't help me further. I eventually got through on the long distance phone call (costing me more money) and explained what had happened and demanding my $45 back. The guy on the line was nice but still informed me he could not do that but I could speak to the person in charge of billing. I said, "GREAT!!". Then he said only by email. So I sent this person, LTuttle, an email explaining for the third time my story. He sent back an email apologizing and after reviewing my case where he saw there was no account activity for those three months he said he would refund my card. I said, "GREAT!!". Then I thought about it and sent him another email asking what he was refunding? He said he could only refund 1 month of the subscription. I replied asking why only 1 month when clearly (according to him) I hadn't played for three months and there was an error when canceling my account online. He never replied back to that email or any other email I sent him. AND!!....SOE never even refunded the fee for one of the months they said they would and had. (His words, "I HAVE refunded one month subscription to your credit card"). What kind of customer service is that? I sent another email telling them how badly treated I was and that I will never buy an SOE game ever again. I promptly canceled my fiancee's account (She wasn't playing really anyways) and persuaded two of my other friends to cancel theirs and move to WoW with me. In the long run because SOE wouldn't refund $45 they ended up losing several hundred dollars or more in lost subscription fees plus future game purchases. (I know...I know...I'm a small fish in a big ocean) but as people can see SOE is going down...just look at SW Galaxies...hell look at Sony in general who has reported profit losses and are now having to deal with the XCP rootkit fiasco and all the losses that will come of that. BTW...It's not about the money ($45 is chump change)...it's about respecting your customers. /Down with Sony...
  • LIAR (Score:1)

    by dbx501 (931606) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @03:50PM (#14046977)
    Check out Mr. Smedley's SWG Forum account. He actually posted ONE LOSY statement and that was when the first CU was about to go live. What a fucking liar
  • by labcoat (459521) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @04:02PM (#14047100)
    After hearing the same answers a few times (SWGRadio, GameSpy, PCGamer Podcast, and here), I'm starting to understand the need for such a sledge-hammer approach.

    The skill system allowed anyone to train any skill and create hybrid professions. While this is a great idea, I can imagine how difficult it is to balance, especially when trying to expand the game. Clearly defining roles allows the developers to code for specific levels. This is the way most RPGs do things and it's a proven method. SOE tried to reach for the stars and fell short, so they decided to go with what works rather than keep tweaking.

    It seems like many of the changes are geared toward this idea. "We tried our best and failed, so now we're changing things to what works...EverQuest in the Star Wars theme, but without the rigid continuity stuff to drag us down."
  • Sheesh (Score:1)

    by Filoviridae (915980) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @04:03PM (#14047108)
    You sound like a Bungie forum whiner. Just the fact that they are putting forth the effort to make such a massive update is evidence enough that they care about the gameplay.
    • Re:Sheesh by typidemon (Score:1) Wednesday November 16 2005, @11:45PM
  • The EQ perspective (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @04:50PM (#14047526)
    As a consumer of another of Sony's game (the only sony product I use, and I'm not paying for it- part of my general Sony boycott due to an incredibly rude CS experience)...

    1) Smedley has been like this since he appeared as a giant gnome. He always talks straight but nothing happens as fast as you think it will and somethings never happen.

    2) Anything that is "awesome" is going to get nerfed.

    3) They rarely ban anyone.

    4) GM's have no real authority.

    5) What do you expect for $13 a month...

    6) Someday the servers -will- shut down (It sucked in Earth & Beyond (EA game- first mmorg I know of shut down- I won't buy an EA game again since we had about 8k players ($80k a month) and they wouldn't even leave a frozen copy up and running.

    7) EQ -never ever- did things until it started losing players- then it mimiced like crazy. I argued with Brad on the old petition board for things that never happened- including the current trade interface. Then when DAoC came out with it and EQ numbers dropped, they moved on it fast.

    Bottom line...
    They think the players are delusional, self-centered and/or idiots. They will quickly mimic proven success.

    If they do with SW what they did with EQ1, it will eventually be fun to play again with most of the rough edges worn off so quit paying but don't delete your characters.

    But it is an ENTERTAINMENT not a life. Don't give up your job, spouse, children, etc. just because it's fun because it is 100% certain to abandon you (by being shut down) within the next 5-10 years max- probably sooner.
  • Memo to SOE (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lewp (95638) * on Wednesday November 16 2005, @06:02PM (#14048108)
    (Last Journal: Monday February 27 2006, @09:54PM)
    Get out of the MMORPG business. You can't handle it.

    The problem with making an MMORPG is that most people only play one. Companies that are incapable of making an outstanding game -- like SOE -- can rest easy making regular PC or console titles, since truly awesome games are rare and they just have to compete with other mediocre companies on a marketing basis in an attempt to get a place in a larger shopping cart.

    With MMORPGs things are different. One good one can come out and completely ruin the market for five years by locking up your potential audience. If these people have time for another MMORPG, they just play more of the one they already have.

    Thus, if you really want to be successful in the MMORPG space, you need to make amazing, genre-defining games that are either so much better than the competition that people are willing to give up weeks/months/years building characters to switch, or that bring in players to the MMORPG space who wouldn't have played otherwise.

    SOE, your best days in this market are behind you. You had the lead, with EQ, and you blew it. EQ2 is awful, SWG was (and probably still is, I'm reserving judgement to be fair) awful, Planetside didn't really make anything of itself, and you've got nothing better coming down the pipe. Get out, let Blizzard play the 800lb gorilla (which is what they are now, not you), and let smaller companies with better reputations and the ability to innovate try to topple them.

    You guys... just get jobs you're actually good at.

    Love,

    A concerned citizen
  • by Phrogman (80473) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @06:37PM (#14048333)
    (http://www.victors.ca/)
    But the reality is otherwise. SOE has the worst track record of communicating with their customers, worse even that Verant (the original developer for Everquest). Verant at least never communicated at all, whereas SOE prefers to lie outright to their customers in order to suck a few more dollars from their wallets.

    As for Smedley's vaunted threads - no one was able to find any posts by him beyond the first one he made introducing himself. Unless he has been posting under some Alias - probably to try to make positive statements - I see no evidence to support his claim to have started any threads at all.

    The original SWG was an extremely ambitious project. I am not at all suprised it encountered constant problems, and I can buy the notion that balancing 34 professions was proving difficult and a programming nightmare. A reduction in total professions might have been in order and certainly some were made redundant by the recent Combat Upgrade they did a few months ago - but this is carrying things to far in the other direction. I think a lot more people would have been more accepting of the NGE if a few things had happened:

    * If SOE had bothered to mention they were working on this for the past year. Instead it was kept completely secret and thrust on us out of the blue, after only 2 weeks of laughable beta testing during which nothing was changed despite thousands of player messages suggesting improvements and changes.
    * If SOE had mentioned prior to selling the Trials of Obi-Wan expansion, based in part on content for professions like Creature Handler, that they would be deleting that profession from the game 2 days after the expansion came out. Instead they sold it to us blithely, padding their bank account and no doubt making the quarterly sales figures more acceptable to the board of directors, THEN announced a revamp of the game that renders much of that expansion pointless or irrelevant. The result: they are forced to offer refunds after many players threaten a lawsuit against them. I imagine the folks in the Corporate Weasel Department^H^H^H Legal Department told them there were sufficient grounds for a problem that they had their hand forced.
    * If SOE had seemingly had the slightest clue in designing the New Game Enhancement (or as it has been referred to by players on the boards the "Negative Game Experience"). The new UI is completely counter-intuitive, inconsistent, and utterly inelegant. Its an incomplete rewrite of an otherwise well evolved interface for no more apparent reason than some programming or marketing dweeb thought cramming a new system down their customer's throats without any options to retain and use the old system was a good idea. Its completly unfriendly to disabled players, many of whom are now unable to play something they paid for an enjoyed previously (as a key feature of the new system the mouse-friendly interface has been replaced with an almost mandatory keyboard-mouse combination being required).
    * If SOE had paid any attention to the plight of those players who played Crafters/Entertainers in the old system. Under the NGE everyone is given a respec but its geared to your "combat level". For a crafter that is CL1. Thus any former combat oriented character can easily respec to any of the new combat classes and be whatever combat level they were prior to the NGE, OR they can respec to a full Trader (the new crafting class) or Entertainer with all abilities. By contrast, a former Crafter or Entertainer profession character can respec to the Trader or Entertainer class and be a Master (ie top) level character in those classes, but if they choose combat they are reduced to CL1 and lose all of their experience. If they then return to Trader in a subsequent respec they lose all of their gained experience. This was reported in "beta" and queried repeatedly so it is apparently working as intended. Many crafters are appalled at this obvious bias and lack of concern for their situation.
    * The new classes offer new special items of kit that in some cases are requi
  • by Kalbo (572550) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @07:01PM (#14048444)
    I played SWG from initial launch until last November when WoW came out and I have kept close track of the game even logging in from time to time dince I stopped playing. Over that time I have seem several cases where SoE community represantives blatantly misled their subscribers, the latest changes are just more in the long series of "mistakes" made by SoE. Initially there was a combat revamp was announced and litterally months went by with no news other than the community representitives defering problems and questions on balance and class fixes to the combat revamp. As months rolled by we came to learn that the revamp was not being actively worked, instead they were working on the JTL expansion. The line from SoE, sorry, we made a "mistake" we should have communicated better... Then the Jedi progression paths were changed, no more hologrind, yay we could go to the force sensative village and grind our way to Jedi. Initially to become a jedi you needed to master 5 random professions to become a jedi. The average player mastered 12 or so professions and had their Jedi slot opened to them. Soon after the holiday holochron gift people started noticing that they it was taking longer to become a Jedi, the average shot up to 20+ professions mastered before getting the Jedi slot. The entire time SoE represantitives swore up and down that nothing about becoming a jedi had changed. When the conversion process to the new Jedi path came out it was revealed that the number of professions had indeed changed and it required many more professions to be mastered to become a Jedi. More "We made a mistake" appologies. I dont think I need to go into all the "mistakes" and appologies that we had at the time of the CURB. Now this latest round of changes followed by the "We made a mistake" appologies. These are not isolated incidents but a behaviorial trend that is not showing any indication that it will change ever. Bewteen my wife and myself we have 3 active accounts, paid for JTL and Rage of Wookies expansions on all 3, but unlike SOE I am learning from my mistakes and taking corrective action and canceling them all. No hollow appologies and empty promises, just action.
  • by soaro77 (809501) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @08:16PM (#14048865)
    My question isn't how, when or why the game changes were made or even if they are good or bad. My question is when are they going to fix their sucky customer service? It is the worst I have ever seen. I started playing SWG one week after beta. I have been through everything that has happened in the game and I continued to stick with it. I finally got my Jedi and maxed out his template and got bored with the game. So I started playing WoW about 6 months ago waiting to see if they were going to bring back the Force Ranking System (FRS) for Jedi. WoW has been the most fun MMORPG game I have ever played. Last night I decided to get onto SWG and give the new game a try. Since I was a previous Jedi I went to get my robe and crystal that we get for all our hard work of becoming a Jedi under the old systems. When I got there to get my robe, there was some guy shouting in a looped macro about how much SOE and the game sucks. The UI is still bugged and doesn't show what each of the robes looks like. So I was trying to ask some other people who were there also. But I couldn't see their responses for all the spam flying by from that macro. So without selecting a robe I tried to open the screen to put the guy on my ignore list. When I did that it automatically selected a robe for me. Turns out is isn't the robe I wanted. I submitted a CSR ticket asking them to exchange the robe for the one I wanted. Nothing more. Both robes are identical except they look different. So there is no benefit to one or the other. I just liked the look of the other one better. I got a response from the CSR and he said he couldn't do it and he closed the ticket. That was it, nothing more. A completely harmless thing could have kept a customer happy and willing to try out the new changes. But now I am sick and tired of being treated this way by them. I'm closing my two accounts tonight. It appears SOE has absolutely no interest in keeping their customers happy and playing. So they are losing the money from my two accounts too and like most other people have said, I will never again buy another SOE game.
  • by SpacePunk (17960) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @08:23PM (#14048911)
    (http://slashdot.org/)
    The guy can't open his mouth without almost literally crapping from it.

    He never posts anything to the message boards other than a once-in-a-while long marketspeak bullshit.

  • It was one of the highest rated questions and first asked, yet I was skipped!

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=167896&cid=139 99931 [slashdot.org]
  • SOE Incompetence (Score:1)

    by BloodAngel_Au (449499) <jason&oranadisability,com> on Wednesday November 16 2005, @09:31PM (#14049272)
    SOE really don't seem to be able to find there a$$ with both hands, lets see,

    EQ2.. shut down
    SWG... Still suffering badly after 2 years
    MxO after moving... every patch seems to cause more problems than before, moving was awful, seems everytime they took down the servers it took 50% longer than what they thought to get it back up, with or without the patch, and the Live Events team doesn't exist, its mearly the Dev's doing double shifts.

    Lets face it, SOE don't know what they are doing and have helped me realise WoW isn't the greatest, but simply very well done. Thanks for helping me find enlightenment with the Horde!
  • by SirBruce (679714) on Thursday November 17 2005, @03:35AM (#14050548)
    (http://www.mmogchart.com/)
    I should probably be emailing this to John, but maybe he'll read it here. :)

    I think SOE deserves some applause for doing this. If my research has told me anything, it's that it's very difficult for a MMOG to vastly grow their userbase after they've reached the "maturity" and gotten their initial core audience. Yes, churn keeps new people coming in, but people are also going out, and as time goes on, those numbers eventually start to dwindle. I don't think any MMOG, no matter how much you update it, can stay popular "forever".

    But if you really want to extend its life and grow your playerbase, then you have to take drastic steps. And SOE has some cajones to do this with SWG, and we should applaud them for at least being willing to try to change things. Trying to fix the current system to the satisfaction of a small subset of existing players is ultimately a losing proposition. This type of overhaul, combined with a new marketing campaign, just MIGHT bring in some new players to the game.

    Sadly, I have to be honest when I say I doubt I'll be one of them. I gave SWG its chance. I was in beta. I was ready to "move in" at release. But everyone was telling SOE the game wasn't ready, and they released anyway. Now, after all those revamps later, was it worth it? I suspect that extra revenue and extra cost got eaten up by the endless revamps that have been going on since the day after release. Later, when other people who worked on the game said there needed to be drastic changes and they weren't listened to, you guys missed another opportunity. And now, there are too many other products competing for my attention, so I can't go back to SWG. It's too late for a jaded gamer like me.

    But I do think you're right in doing SOMETHING, although it may turn out what you're doing wasn't exactly the right way to go. In any case, I do wish SWG success, if only to see what the new numbers look like on my MMOG charts. :)

    Bruce
    MMOG Analyst
  • by danaria (931975) on Thursday November 17 2005, @04:34PM (#14056626)
    I have been a guild leader for over a year. Played SWG for 2 years. My giuld is one of the oldest ingame. All of us are leaving. I realize now that the first combat *upgrade*( if you want to call it that) was just a stepping point to this new change. If you all wanted to know how to kill a game you just found it. SWG was the best online game in the world, now only 4 year olds want to play. You killed the communication( expectally during combat which it is needed most), you killed the orginaltiy of all characters. I had a old jedi that tooks me months to work on then when I finally get one you do this. All i have to say is i canceled my accounts and everyone i know has. So guess what, when the first CU came and ppl were protesting it enough to crash a server you all didnt listen. Now i understand why the *help* chat was not able to be talked in. You all knew that we didnt want it but went ahead. So for me DONT ANYONE GET THIS GAME IT SUCKS!!!!!! Unless you bring back the old SWG ( pre first CU ) i wont ever come back.
  • Liar! (Score:1)

    by Kedra (934086) on Saturday November 26 2005, @06:59PM (#14120825)
    John Smedley is a liar!!! and i quote... "John Smedley: There are long threads that I've started myself on our forums, but we have community representatives that are answering questions diligently on our forums already, and I'm very involved in what's being said. I'm trying to get the word out in other venues and we know that Slashdot has a wide reach into the online gamer audience in general and the SWG community. Btw, I try to personally answer all of the emails from our players that are written to me and I get a fair number of them each day from our players." Until yesterday when he decided to deal with some of the backlash from this POS NGE, his one and only post was in May of 2005!! You don't care about us John and we all know it! Don't lie through your teeth about what you do and don't do on the forums!
  • SOE in General (Score:1)

    by ViolaPlayer (844160) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @02:27PM (#14046147)
    After 4+ years of EverQuest (first with Verant, later SOE), these lines seemed familiar. PR with very little understanding of the player base or game play experience. I still can't decide if Sony is really lacking in creativity and intelligence or just honestly does not care about its' customers (as evidenced by the extremely poor communication mentioned earlier). I suspect it is all of the above.

    Back to Anarchy Online, since I will NEVER buy another Sony product, of any kind, ever again.

    Pally powah!
    [ Parent ]
  • Re:For those looking to switch (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GroovyChk (640592) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @03:28PM (#14046761)
    (http://toreador.kindred.com/)
    I tried WoW for awhile but cancelled it. No player cites, no houses, limited crafting, and yet another fantasy game. I have loved Star Wars since I was a little girl of nine. I just want them to fix the classic SWG game. Pre-hologrind.
    [ Parent ]
  • by jsmedley (852943) on Wednesday November 16 2005, @03:49PM (#14046956)
    (http://www.soe.sony.com/)
    It never ceases to amaze me how people will interpret something that's pretty clear. No - we aren't putting in any special software to prevent people from copying the game. It's totally unneccessary in a subscription based game. This is exactly why the online gaming industry is a very viable option in China right now.. piracy just isn't an issue. John Smedley President, Sony Online Entertainment [email protected]
    [ Parent ]
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