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Confessions of an Aca-Fan by Henry Jenkins CMS MIT
My MIT Site

So What Happened to Star Wars Galaxies?

Earlier this week, Next Generation published a short excerpt from my much longer discussion of Star Wars Gallaxies and user-generated content in Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. The publication seems to have prompted game designer and theorist Raph Koster to blog about what he learned by adopting a more collaborationist approach to his fans. Here's some of what he had to say:

Some have since decided that it was listening to the players too much that caused some of the design problems with SWG. I am not sure I agree. If anything, I think that many subsequent problems came from not listening enough, or not asking questions in advance of changes. Walking a mile in the players' shoes is a difficult trick to pull off even if you have the best of intentions.

The tensest and most difficult moments in SWG's development -- and they came often -- were when we had to remove something that players really liked. Usually, it was against our own wishes, because of time constraints or (rarely) orders from on high. But we couldn't tell the players the real reasons sometimes. That sucked, frankly, because the open relationship really did matter. As often as we could, we laid everything bare.

These days, it's accepted wisdom that you don't reveal a feature until it's done, so as to guarantee that you never let the players down. Of course, even finished features sometimes fall out for one reason or another...

In any case, I think I don't agree with that philosophy. I'd rather have prospective players on a journey with the team, than have them be a passive group marketed to. Yes, they will suffer the ups and downs, and see the making of the sausage... but these days, that's getting to be an accepted thing in creative fields. There's not much to gain, to my mind, in having the creators sitting off on a pedestal somewhere -- people fall from pedestals, and pedestals certainly will not survive contact with Live operation of a virtual world. Instead, I'd rather the customers know the creators as people who make mistakes, so that when one happens, they are more likely to be forgiven or understood.

One of the challenges of academic publishing is that the world can move out from under year in that long, long period of time between when you finish a book and when it hits the shelves. In the case of Convergence Culture, one of the biggest shifts was the meltdown which has occured in the relations between the players and creators of Star Wars Galaxies, much of which really hit the fan last December. I still think what the book says about Star Wars Galaxies -- Raph Koster, as the comments above suggest, remains a leading advocate for a more collaborationist relationship between producers and consumers; his approach does contrast with at least some of the policies that Lucas has applied elsewhere in dealing with other aspects of Star Wars fandom and so Star Wars represents a rich case study of the uncertain and unstable relations between media franchises and their consumers. If anything, these contrasts are even easier to see when we see how shifts in company leadership impacted the community around this particular game.

I have not been on the inside of that meltdown. Most of what I know came from a close reading of news reports about what happened and conversations with other games researchers, such as USC's Doug Thomas or UW's Kurt Squire. I am sure there are readers who could tell us more about what happened than I can and I would welcome them to share their experiences here. I prepared some reflections about what happened for our Convergence Culture Consortium partners newsletter last January.


Shortly after Christmas, a friend and fellow researcher Doug Thomas sent me a link to a fascinating and moving fan-made video by Javier -- marking his decision to leave the massively multiplayer game world, Star Wars Galaxies, and commenting on the mass migration of hard core fans and players from this space.

Some background is needed to be able to appreciate this video and what it might suggest about the nature of fan investments in MMPORGS. In keeping with the cantina sequences which have been a favorite aspect of the Star Wars film series, the game provides opportunities for players to select the entertainer class as a possible role within its world. Javier helped to organize the Entertainer class players to create an extraordinary series of Cantina Musicals -- elaborate Busby Berkeley style musical numbers which required the participation and cooperation of a cast of hundreds of players.

As you watch the video, keep in mind that each character is controlled by an individual player, hitting buttons in a choreographed manner,who may be separated from the other participants by thousands of miles
of real world geography. The potential for such videos is built into the game -- through the capacity to move characters in certain ways,for players to share common spaces and experiences, and for players to
record their own game play activities -- but no one in the game company imagined that the fans would have used them to create Lawrence Welk-inflected Christmas specials or to protest company policies. In
short, the video expresses the power of the fan community both in terms of how it was made and in terms of what it has to say about the experience of playing the game....

Raph Koster saw the Star Wars fans as co-designers in the development of the game: actively courting them from the project's conception, sharing design docs and getting their feedback at every step of the way, designing a game which was highly dependent on fan creativity to provide much of its content and fan performance to create mutually rewarding experiences within the game.

Here are some of the things Koster did right in courting Star Wars fans:

1. He respected their expertise and emotional investments in the series.
2. He opened a channel of communications with fans early in the process.
3. He actively solicited advice from fans about design decisions and followed that advice where-ever possible.
4. He created resources which sustained multiple sets of interests in the series.
5. He designed forms of game play which allowed fans to play diverse roles which were mutually reinforcing.

Here's some of what he had to say about the importance of fans to the franchise's success:

"There's no denying it - the fans know Star Wars better than the developers do. They live and breathe it. They know it in an intimate way. On the other hand, with something as large and broad as the Star Wars universe, there's ample scope for divergent opinions about things. These are the things that lead to religious wars among fans and all of a sudden you have to take a side because you are going to be etablishing how it works in this game."

That said, the policies Koster created were eroded over time, leading to increased player frustration and distrust. In another video, Javier traces a history of grievances and conflicts between the "Powers That Be" within the game company and the Entertainer class of characters. Some casual players felt the game was too dependent on player-generated content, while the more creative players felt that upgrades actually restricted their ability to express themselves through the game and marginalized the Entertainer class from the overall experience. At the same time, the game failed to meet the company's own revenue expectations, especially in the face of competition from the enormously successful World of Warcraft, a game which adopted a very different design philosophy.

Late last year, the company announced plans to radically revamp the game's rules and content, a decision that has led to the wholesale alienation of the existing player base and massive defections. It remains to be seen if the plans will draw in new consumers; it is clear that they have significantly destroyed the existing fan culture. Javier is not alone in seeing these decisions as the end of the road for his community.

The statements made by Nancy MacIntyre, the game's senior director, at LucasArts to the New York Times illustrates the huge shift in thinking from Koster's original philosophy to this "retooled" franchise:

We really just needed to make the game a lot more accessible to a much broader player base. There was lots of reading, much too much, in the game. There was a lot of wandering around learning about different abilities. We really needed to give people the experience of being Han Solo or Luke Skywalker rather than being Uncle Owen, the moisture farmer. We wanted more instant gratification: kill, get treasure, repeat. We needed to give people more of an opportunity to be a part of what they have seen in the movies rather than something they had created themselves.

MacIntyre's comments represent a classic set of mistakes in thinking about how to build a fan community around a property:

1. Don't confuse "accessibility" with simplicity. As Steve Johnson notes in his best-selling book, Everything Bad is Good For You or educator James Paul Gee argues in his new book, Video Games Are Good For the Soul, contemporary media audiences are searching for complexity, not simplicity. The video games that succeed in the market are the ones that demand the most of their players -- not those that require the least. The key to successful games is not dumb content, but complexity that is organized and managed so that users can handle it.

2. Don't underestimate the intelligence of your consumers. Gamers are not illiterate. They are not necessarily simply kids. Industry statistics suggest that the average gamer is in his/her late 20s or early 30s and all signs are that the game market is expanding as the initial generation of gamers ages. Star Wars Galaxies consumers skewed older and as such, they wanted something different from the game play experience than younger Star Wars fans. And if you do think your consumers are idiots, it is not bright to say so to New York Times reporters. The fans do read newspapers and as members of a collective intelligence community, they have an enormous network for circulating information that matters to the group. These comments have come back to haunt the corporate executives many times over and probably did as much as anything else in creating a mass exodus from the game.

3. In an age of transmedia storytelling, don't assume fans want the same experience from every installment of the same franchise. There are many films, books, comics, and games out there which focus on the experience of the central protagonists of the series. Koster wisely recognized that while individual players might want to BE Luke Skywalker or Hans Solo, a world where everyone was a Jedi would be boring for all involved. Instead, he created a game world where there were many different classes of players (including the Entertainer class) and where each of those roles interacted in a complicated ecology of experience.

4. Don't underestimate the diversity of fan cultures. Contrary to what is often claimed, successful media properties do not appeal to the lowest common denominator. Rather, they draw together a coalition of micro-publics, each with their own interests in the material, each expressing their emotional bonds with the content in their own ways. Accordingly, Star Wars has a large, diverse audience interested in everything from the flora and fauna to interrelationships among characters. Given such diversity, why would you assume that the core market only wants to blow things up? The real sweet spot would be to /tap into/ these diverse audiences and sell even more copies. Why, given the richness of fan creative expression around Star Wars, would you assume that Luke Skywalker is the only role people care about? The goal should have been to expand the range of experiences available in the game rather than dismantle what appealed to one audience in hopes of attracting another.

5. Don't underestimate the value of fan creative contributions to the success of contemporary media franchises. Will Wright, the creator of The Sims, the most successful game franchise of all time, has suggested that his success can be traced directly back to player contributions:

We see such benefit from interacting with our fans. They are not just people who buy our stuff. In a very real sense, they are people who helped to create our stuff...We are competing with other properties for these creative individuals. All of these different games are competing for communities, which in the long run are what will drive our sales.... Whichever game attracts the best community will enjoy the most success. What you can do to make the game more successful is not to make the game better but to make the community better.
Conversely, when you alienate your most active and creative fans -- folks like Javier -- then you severely damage the franchise as a whole. These people play valuable roles as grassroots intermediaries helping to build up interest in your property and as performers helping to shape the experience of other players.

6. Don't Sacrifice your existing fan base in search of a totally different market. The kind of robust and creative fan cultures Wright and Koster describe in their comments above are hard to build and even harder to rebuild. To some degree, fans have to find media properties which meets their needs, even though companies can adopt policies of fan relations which will make them more receptive to fans and can help to sustain such communities once they emerge. Koster worked hard to win over Star War fans who were skeptical about his efforts given the history of fairly simplistic action-oriented solo-player titles within the Star Wars franchises. Koster, himself, was fully aware that you could not institute large scale changes in such a game world without damaging the kind of trust he had helped to establish. Here's what he told me when I interviewed him for my book: "Just like it is not a good idea for a government to make radical legal changes without a period of public comment, it is often not wise for an operator of an online world to do the same."

I have just scratched the surface here. I suspect the rise and fall of Star Wars Galaxies will be studied for years to come as a textbook example of good and bad ways to deal with fan communities. Certainly our member companies should draw on it as a reference in framing and evaluating their own fan relations policies.


Wow. That's that best evaluation of what happened to SWG that I've ever seen.

There were a few things that SOE failed to take into account when they redesigned the game, some of which you briefly touched on.

First, the videos that Javier and others produced were one of the best marketing tools for SWG. I know a number of people that decided to play SWG after seeing those videos. The game looked cool, fun, and it obviously encouraged creativity. When the game was "destroyed", that marketing force worked against SOE.

Second, the crafting complexity was a huge draw for many people. Sure, not everyone wanted to be craft. It was difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. But, those that did loved expressing themselves through their creations. The key point, however, was that crafters often had multiple accounts to work around inventory limitations in the game. Some crafters I know had upwards of 5 accounts, where as FPS fans would only have one. When the crafters were alienated, they represented a far larger portion of the subscriptions than SOE anticipated.

Finally, different divisions in SOE failed to coordinate upgrades with expansion pack releases. Last year, within weeks of releasing an expansion, SOE revamped the game again. This change not only alienated more core players, but it confused new players that had just started the game only to be confronted with an entirely new interface and game play. To say that some of these people were upset would be a gross understatement.

Thanks for writing this. I'd like to believe that SOE has learned from their mistakes, but I doubt it. And the game I loved is long gone.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

I, too, was caught in this, but in a very different way.
I was caught by the changes in the point of view of the newbie.

A friend of mine was very much into SWG and kept telling me all these great things, how entertainers were awesome and crafting was hard, but ultimately rewarding, and how you actually had to work to be anything, instead of the simple grinding threadmil of getting a quest, killing things, rinse, repeat.

Alas, I decided to give it a try after my friend had been away for a while, which happened to be after the changes were implemented... and boy, was I disappointed, since what I found was NOTHING of what he said, and specially nothing of what the trailers showed any of us.

Needless to say, I quit the game after about a very disappointing week of SWG playing, since what I was told by a friend and was being advertised was nothing of what I found.

Later my friend also returned to SWG and quit right after, since everything was changed and all he did was ruined forever.

Great article, thanks!

Great stuff here!

You know, Nancy MacIntyre was promoted earlier this year to VP of global sales and marketing for LA. What does that say about LA in general?

It's really sad to remember all the great things you could do in SWG. Things which don't fit into that kill-loot-repeat mold, yet are infinitely more interesting and powerful.

While there was certainly a group of players who loved the creativity-based play at the heart of SWG, it is a crying shame that there was so little else in the game to support them -- or for them to support in turn.

I suppose I have a fairly different take on SWG, in part because I used to work for an MMO company with a radically different design philosophy.

I always respected that SWG had elements that let interested players interact through compelling, creativity-based gameplay; but as a player, developer and Star Wars fan, I was frustrated that these innovations were given a higher priority over of building a solid social adventuring game.

I can believe that Star Wars Galaxies could have been an Uncle Owen simulator, AND a Luke Skywalker simulator, AND a Millenium Falcon simulator; and that they could have fed into each other to create something more compelling to more players than the sum of its parts and their interests. But at launch, SWG seemed destined to self-select only the players committed to "making their own fun." And neither the IP (nor, I suspect, SWG's development budget) were intended for that goal.

If everything else in the game had aligned properly, then these creativity elements MIGHT have added value to the action-adventure gamers who flocked to SWG -- gamers that I'm comfortable presuming were the significant majority. But SWG delivered little more than an empty world to that majority, and was unsurprisingly unable to convince them that what they really wanted to do in the Star Wars universe was to farm, dance, or own virtual property.

I know that creativity-based games can be huge successes, as shown by The Sims and various tycoon games clogging the shelves at Target; but releasing an MMO based on one of the most beloved action-adventure sagas with so little action or adventure is neglect of a high order: it misuses the IP, but more importantly, misguides and disappoints the audience.

I should make clear that none of this is an attempt to justify what SoE did to "fix the problem," or how they did it. I suspect there might have been a way to strengthen the core adventure elements within SWG without destroying its existing strengths -- but as a resident of Boston currently weathering the literal fallout from The Big Dig, I've learned to have little hope for such logistical and managerial miracles.

Also, I should make clear that I really, really wanted SWG to pull a rabbit out of its hat, and make an MMO that had both world-sim and adventure elements working in concert. They had the best shot of anyone, in terms of money and IP breadth, to prove that a rich, multifaceted online world could have mainstream viability. Hell, maybe Blizzard would have ripped off SWG instead of Everquest! :)

As good an analysis as ever of what happened can be found on That Chip Guy's blog here.

While this is a good analysis, to me as a deeply involved player the flaw of SWG was much simpler and more typical for 'why software projects fail':

* their code quality was extremely low
* their priorities skewed to what they (the project team) though was cool rather than what players wanted

SWG had big, bad bugs in their system (like ~10% of the special moves for a class didn't work) that existed during the beta peroid and continued to exist for over the year that I played. Rather than fix their existing bugs, they kept adding new, buggy features time after time. Bug reports would go unanswered (except for your typical auto-response) and long, detailed threads of the issues on the support forums would go unresponded to for months upon months. Then they would slap some new feature into the game world that was so broken that it was obvious that no-one had actually ever tested it before it was released. When you're paying $15/mo for a game and you see this happen month after month, you get pretty heated.

Perhaps related to the first one, the SWG team would pound out 'cool' features and expansions while ignoring these bugs. I made a character that created a business selling 'shield generators'. While I waited over a year for a couple of very bad bugs to be fixed, they developed 'creature mounts', vehicles, space expansion, etc. Early on in the game they had a significant issue that most of their content wasn't being seen because the galaxy was very large and the travel distances (and times) were long. They really needed something to allow characters to get from place to place quickly. How about a speeder bike? Instead, they spent something like four months making 'creature mounts' (e.g. the ability to ride a "star wars horse") which looked cool, but took a long time to get right (creatures have to be animated, have sound, they had to have the right 'bounce' when you were riding, etc.) While people waited impatently, they glowered on about how cool creature mounts and bouncy rides were going to be. After they finished about four months of development here, two months later they came out with speeder bikes (which were a much simpler solution to the same problem -- no animation, no bounce, etc) and creature mounts were hardly ever used again.

I loved SWG -- its flexibility (houses, custom character profiles, economy, etc.) were light years ahead of where the competition is even today. Now I play the much simpler and less fulfilling WoW. I can sum up why with one experience. When I first bought WoW, I hit a bug. I submitted a support request, four hours later I had a real response from a real person saying 'yep, we know about that, fixed in the next update.' Two days later it was fixed. That was the last bug I've ever seen personally. In SWG, I worked around bugs in every single play session...

I'll make mine brief, since I agree with most of what's been said, both in articles and in comments but I'll add this:

"Don't Sacrifice your existing fan base in search of a totally different market."

That's the polite way of saying what happened. "Don't murder your existing fan base" is more like it. They absolutely *DESTROYED* years of gaming from their hardcore fans. Anyone with an IQ can tell you that someone who has played (and paid for) a game for years is financially more valuable than four or five people who will play the game for a month or two then leave because it's a poor emulation of WoW. I know people whose characters were worth thousands in the market suddenly have those characters become, literally, completely worthless.

To take the obvious example... jedi... and have it go from something that is painstakingly crafter over many, many, many months (6 months was considered an amazing, near-unheard of accomplishment) and turn it into a newbie-accessible class is beyond comprehension.

There are hundreds of thousands (maybe just 100K) of people who are disgusted (at best) with SOE. There are many thousands (like myself) of Refugees who will *NEVER* play a SOE MMO again. Just look at how the Vanguard forum traffic went down once they crawled back to Sony.

It's disgusting. If it weren't for the omnipotence of EULA's, it would have been criminal. The fact that SOE was in such incredible trouble with the specte of bait-and-switch lawsuits hanging over them that they *actually gave refunds for a videogame* proves their guilt.

Personally, I would have enjoyed seeing them be sued. Many times suits have been threatened... this is the first time I honestly think it would have worked.

Seriously... there aren't many developers as hated as SOE is now due to their massacre of their own paying fanbase.


well it is a bad thing that all the non fighting classes were nerfed like that but as a person who wanted to play an action character of starwars there wasnt much satisfying about the action and the missions at the beginning we all spent time hunting the local fauna that was meek and repetitive the subsequent changes didnt bring much more I really thought the nge would bring interesting quest line but it wasnt the case there was no need to nerf the classes ( and make the jedi available to all!) it would have been enough to bring more content!
the targeting system would probably not have created such a stir if all the rest had been left untouched well there was a lot of bad things in the earlier swg like the requirement for doctor buffing and the emp^hasis on melee combat which ruined the starwars experience for me and made it feel like a fantasy game with a starwars dressing. So I dont agree with the view that the original team was so right about the gamedesign and that the subsequent changes were bad it was more complex than that. The game had started with many defects from day one ( not to mention the bugs!!!for those who had forgotten!)

It nearly makes me tear up, thinking about how they decimated such a beautiful and immersive and wonderful game. I can only hope they pull the plug soon and let someone else begin working on Galaxies 2...with a more open architecture that allows the creative fans to truly innovate and build their own worlds and content, while still satifying the twitch-kiddies and grinders.
Oh yeah, and no more grid-based towns that sprawl like bleak and identical suburbs, you hear me LucasArts/Sony?!

/former droid engineer

"You know, Nancy MacIntyre was promoted earlier this year to VP of global sales and marketing for LA. What does that say about LA in general?"

I think that's arguably a good move. Her quote is true in that there are a lot of LucasArts customers who want the simplistic Han Solo/Luke Skywalker experience. The problem is that SWG was the wrong place to be doing that - LucasArts have better products for that purpose, in their stable of Star Wars games.

By putting her higher up the chain, she'll be able to put the round pegs she likes into the round holes, rather than trying to force them into square holes.

I really hate them for killing off the community like they did, and for changing a game that did not need to be change like that. I used to have so much fun, but the fun just let me more and more as weeks went by.

At this point, I could care less if the "twitch kiddies" are happy with a game like SWG. They now have three new console systems competing for the privilege of becoming their preferred means of burning off excess fast-twitch biochemicals. Let the PC platform remain our last bastion for gamers who like to THINK, and everyone's happy.

A "Galaxies 2" could only be created by the people who love the game the way it used to be. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel and it is not shone from SOE or LA, but from an open-source dev community of vets and professionals.

Development is progressing rapidly, and this emulator is a promising, legal solution to the mess SOE made. Also, check out , which will be hosting this Emu when it is released.

I'll see you all on the other side.

Excellent article! It captures my feelings almost exactly. I can especially relate to the part about gamers not wanting simplicity. I loved that SWG was so complex. It's what kept me playing from launch day until the NGE came out. That's 2 years of playing SWG. I rarely missed a day. No other game has captivated me for that ammount of time. If the pre-cu game were still alive, I'd still be paying for my 2 accounts. Alas, it's dead and gone, although there are those who are trying to bring it back, and they are getting very close. For those interested visit

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Good Article.

I'd like to see some commentary on swg regarding broken promises.

Certain things in swg where promised to the playerbase and where either swept aside, ditched completely, pushed back indefinately, changed from what was stated as the intention, and improved communications.

That really had a large trust impact on the community on future changes and commitments by SOE on the future success and playability of the game. Things that immediately come to mind are smugglers, GCW and even post NGE collison detection. I know there is a lot of issues where promises where not kept and I think that also feed into the real community breakdown because the community no longer trusted those doing revisions that they could deliver on what they promised.

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Incredible write up.

The easiest solution to this whole mess would of been to leave SWG the way it was, and make the NGE SWG2. Two complete seperate games.

This way paying customers actually had there own choice to make, not a choice made for them.

What's the point of a Role Playing game, if after a year they change everything.

I was one of the few who had a Master Creature Handler, which they also did away with.

I refuse to ever buy a SOE product ever again, due to the gross neglect they had with the SWG fan base.

At least other MMORPG-makers have been learning from this debacle. The City of Heroes developers have always been very good about keeping the player base informed of upcoming changes and additions, with only the occasional exception; the worst debacle City of Heroes ever had ("Enhancement Diversification," where all powers in the game had their effectiveness capped lower to prevent people from being overpowered) was never anywhere near as thorough as the Star Wars Galaxies situation.

Recently the City of Heroes head developer mantle passed from "Statesman," the original head developer, to "Positron," one of his former subordinates, and one of the first things he did was make it clear that keeping the game's existing fans was much more important than selling another paid add-on expansion pack at the possible risk of alienating them. So the paid add-on was cancelled and all of the gee-whiz neato elements that had been promised for it would be moved to the next couple of periodical free updates instead.

What's more, the next update is coming with a "veteran rewards" system whereby people who've been playing the game for various lengths of time are granted certain bonuses—things that players have been specifically asking for, like trenchcoat costume items, permanent versions of popular temporary powers, and so forth.

Hopefully this will lead to the game retaining more of its current players, getting more new players, and staying around for a while.

remember it is not a bunch of them that ruined it for us but a bunch of dumbass us' who ruined it for us. They are not some strange species (arguably)but rather just typical humans caught in the net of profits - most of us are stuck in, in our daily lives. I love the idea that 'those corporate whores' killed the game. but sadly there is no 'us and them' just a bunch of relatively shitty humans that fuck up. History will laugh at both sides of this no sided coin. last but not contridictingly least "there is no us and them, but them they do not think the same.

Its sad the game has died. I left the game as soon as the so called upgrades where released. My entire guild of 400+ people left the game. Most of the old player base is gone. Its a game for children now, its simple, soo simple that it bores nearly everyone that plays it to tears in a matter of minutes.

I salute you SOE you have destroyed one of the greatest games of all time, enraged thousands of die hard fans. and nearly obliterated your companies good name. This is an accomplishment so great that even I envy it.

I really had great expectations of the game with it first came out. Playing from launch date then through all those accumulated hours to equal months of playing, I feel all that time I've spent away from my family playing was just flushed, and the only thing I'm left with is good memories of my character and playing with friends. SOE didn't even take into consideration the obedience and dedication people had with this game. I guess I'm grateful that this ordeal has opened my eyes to what really matters.

it really burns me the way that they have done the players this game really had potental it could have been up there with wow but not now runescape has a better player base than swg now after the changes there cant be more than 12000 players left
on swg its just wrong i was looking to the game to be great and it was for a while
but then they did there little upgrade
and destroyed all of that.u know i wanted the chance to be a force sensitive but not the choice to start as a force sensitive it was so cool but thats all gone now even if they fix it no one would ever trust them again
and ill not play there games any more

I played from opening day till 4 months after CU, to many this may seem strange, but I grew up watching the films, when they were first released standing in the city block long lines waiting to get in and as I grew in age so did the releases of Star Wars.
To me there was an unmistakable connection between how my child hood was influenced by what was good and evil and the struggles that even beings in a fantasy world thousands of years advanced of us could almost reach the point of destruction.

When SWG was originally announced the excitement coupled with the anxiety of actually living the dream of being in Star Wars Galaxies and eagerly starting the game, you were left dumb struck, this is in incredible OMG I can t wait, run around like a chicken with your head cut off, what do I do first.

It was never disparaging trying to figure out who, what, where it fueled the excitement, meeting peps who played since beta helped to develop the newbie group of people like myself, as you played along you found from other players the mechanics of the game and what current problems were, and there was the promise from Raph Koster as many of us affectionately remember him by Holocron if Raph said it that fixes were coming you knew what to expect, but the newbie group had turned into a community, a community of people that had a real common bond, the love of fantasy world that we all had grown up watching.

Well in game we grew our characters and as neighbors we became friends, a connection I had never experienced before, logging in you always had that special someone you always enjoyed playing with or missed when they weren t around, or work relating to your profession that you needed to attend to.

There were plenty of times you just wanted to play alone, but because there was so much interaction with in the game play that you didn t have to fight to interact with each other, going out to get better armor or clothing, you visited an armor smith or tailor each played a role that in some way required the use and or the attention of another.

They say given enough time around even some of the worst enemies, you can learn to live with each other and SWG was a representation of just that the players created their own entertainment, role playing, discovering the intricacies of personalizing and crafting goods, developing an economy, creating personal bonds of trust, joining what many in RL would call fraternities or guilds.

The community through its own collective collaborations found work a rounds to many bugs, many were unavoidable, the point however is that even with the state of the game as it was, the communities evolved yet even further, to a point no one would really have imagined, engaged together they had participated in developing a self sufficient virtual world, were a brother hood of man and women, from all walks of life, from all over the world, the game was so immersive that it required hundreds upon hundreds of hours of dedicated game play.

And in the mix of all of this there was the hope of improvements to problems persistent in the game, but that never stopped the community, we still played when we wanted more storage space or slots to continue to develop our world again the community reacted to find work a rounds to this problem we started getting multiple accounts paying in some case like myself with 3 accounts $53.00 a month for game that is plagued with problems, one could argue that paying or doing that was stupid and one could also answer, than you never made that connection to SWG.

Months and months of playing, grinding, exploring, and reading and following the bulletins as posted by the Dev and posting answers in polls, participating in fan created community events, but patiently we waited and continued to play.

Then the CU was introduced and the community at large was struck like a hammer firmly striking a pane of glass, people shattered into many directions of opinions and although there was a call for a more comprehensive approach to fixing the combat in-balance, what was hurting or lacking in the game was fixes to current issues, but our request for help from SOE would fall on death ears, more content was being introduced that was also loitered with bugs or glitches not to long after there was such a revolt that a large portion of the CU was reversed, but it was like the tossing of a people over a cliff that escalated into an avalanche, it was the beginning of the end.

By this time many of the dedicated player base had felt betrayed, although many had threatened to cancel there was a significant exodus of players from the game, but this intern then created yet another unforeseen problem although many players had cancelled their accounts and stopped playing many of these accounts were already paid for in advance and left many baron structures and cities loitered throughout the planets in SWG.

Most if not all of my friends had gone, I log in and there are empty building everywhere in our city, travel into the major ports and the once meeting grounds for many hundreds of group players or grinders was gone empty.

I felt lied to, I felt cheated and betrayed not only were the bugs not fixed, but I no longer had my community all my efforts playing by there rules resulted in it being thrown in my face like i didnt matter to continue to play with and so I left.

Shortly after JTL was released wanting so much for that same feeling and desire to play in my own Virtual Star Wars I returned and although the community was still very fragmented it had grown back some not a lot but enough to spark interest and I returned and once again was immersed into this virtual SW community many things had changed some were better, but not to my surprise SWG still had many of the very same bugs that plagued it from the very beginning.

Very distrusting of anything that came from the Development team, the only Dev I ever trusted now was Tiggs the community relations officer, although I didn t always see eye to eye with Tiggs and would argue with her about different issues, she always seemed like if anyone at SOE is listening to me it s Tiggs and she was the one that would act as the liaison between the community and SOE which buy now had grown very far apart, SOE had fueled the very fire they were trying to put out.

They announced the expansion of KOTOR the planet Mustafar and the long awaited fixes to issues, bugs and exploits that had been created by the work a rounds, the anticipated overdue updates for CH professions many had purchased the advanced copies of the expansion and played for 15 days prior to the server wide expansion release.
3 days exactly after there was a comment posted in the Dev forums of a new game enhancement that is going to be released in the Test Center and that 2 weeks after it would go live, how can they do that, I worried about what had happened during the CU, I wanted to make sure that I helped in any way I could to test this NGE so that they don t make the same mistake, many had done the same but when I finally logged in my worst fears about the game had come true.

It was not a New Game Enhancement it was all together a New Game Engine, graphics quality were all different, game mechanics completely redone, macros essentially removed from the game, 32 combinable professions were substituted for 9 iconic professions the widely promoted updates and rewards for CH on KOTOR were gone, elite weapons and armor and clothing, for the most part rendered useless all of this only 3 days after releasing KOTOR in November of 2006.

And Tiggs well the only person after Raph Koster, we ever trusted was Tiggs, and to an even bigger surprise also without notice she is removed from SOE SWG forums without as much as a why.
We demanded an explanation for what happened the SWG forums I was there I saw with my own eyes , the boards were filling faster with Players comments positive and negative at an astronomical rate SOE moved GM from other games to SWG the MMORPG, rampant posting detailing peoples thoughts of distrust complaining, negative derogatory posting reached the point where the visiting Dev were purging the forums, if the subject matter was anything other than bright and shiny days for ever after it was removed, and with it massive banning from the forums, the forums "the community was the tenants and they were revolting against the landlord we don t have any heat we can t live here !!!"

They brought down the forums
People were poised against each other, you could not have written a better Drama.

Except this time SOE had made its worst mistake under estimating the resolve of the community once again the community found a work around, if they won t let us voice our call for help and pleas to listen to them in the forums, what they are doing is killing US, then the hell with it I m going to take you down with me.

Many if not hundreds of players gathered in the star ports on different Galaxies and every one made sure that all graphics were turned all the way up with all options, opening multiple broken ships and speeders from your data pads when you opened a broken speeder it created an explosion and sprites well imagine now about 150 people all doing the same thing repeatedly but concentrated in just one location, as well as spamming the chat channels we were protesting the injustice and the system, well no system was ever designed to handle that much stress GM s were logging into the game and began to threatening players with banning from the game if they did not disburse.

There was a love affair between the community and the SW, like the kind you find between a mother and her step child SOE was nothing more than the adoption agency providing a service.

They believe that they needed a broader and younger audience to appeal to their products, but what they didn t understand and still Don t is that the older audience that started in SWG were the same ones that watched the SW saga unfold like myself and the children of those were going to be there next generation of players, I originally heard about SWG through a friend word of mouth and now when I play any other Virtual World Game I limit my interactions with the game, I will never let that happen again maybe that s why I don t last long on any MMORPG because I keep looking for that same feeling of belonging of being part of something exciting and special.

You alien aided us, we were your target audience of loyal subscribers we paid your way, we participated, we were the ones that told our friends to join our Virtual Star wars world, we were your advertising agency the best you ever had, we were the ones that stuck with you, but you didn t care about us any more so we stopped caring about you.

If you think there s no connection at all period with SOE SWG and RL, then ask yourself this SOE when I cancelled my account at SWG I also cancelled my 2 EQ2 accounts and I also applied a self imposed embargo against all SOE OR Sony products all together, if I know for fact that a product does actualy have any monetary value to Sony I won t but it, and I don t support it and to a lot of people I have spoken to, do the very same thing.

Do you still think it was just a game to us.?

Trivial maybe, over reacting yeah maybe that too, but ummmm I hope PS3 keeps doing as well as it has been.

My biggest gripe with SWG that hasn't already been aadressed is their absolute failure to bring about the live events that they had promised. The possibilities with these events are infinite, however their complete failure to come through in this respect was a complete let down to many. Live events have fallent out of favor lately, but they have true potential.

Former Rifle Master/Two-handed sword Master. Proud former member of Bekwen Industries and Rebel Guilds United

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Henry Jenkins is the co-founder of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program.