How Star Wars Galaxies pioneered a ‘living society’

    
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Former Star Wars Galaxies Creative Director and current Crowfall consultant Raph Koster returned to his blog last night to pen the fourth in his series of SWG retrospectives, this one on the sandbox’s living society.

To build that society and the diverse people who would populate it, Koster says his team set out to make SWG “care” about player activities by building on Ultima Online’s use-based skill system and ensuring it rewarded every activity in the game, from dancing and vendoring and surveying to trapping and climbing and shooting.

Here’s a fun fact: SOE originally planned for experience to accrue for a crafter as other players used her creations, but it proved “too expensive to implement.” Moreover, he says he once hoped to allow player missions for transporting goods through the bazaar. ‘Twas not to be.

The player Miner profession was also scrapped before launch, though mining itself through harvesters carried on in a big way. Koster recalls how Reece Thornton’s initial 79-subclass resource system combined with material obsolescence, player shops, freely tradeable goods, and item decay for an epic player economy, in spite of resistance from RPG players more accustomed to traditional loot drops.

He further discusses the HAM system (that’s health, action, and mind), stat capping, horizontal progression, the proto-achievement badge system, and the controversial decision to limit player accounts to one character per server in order to foster — actually, he uses the word “force” — mutual interdependence. But that was just one of many decisions made with such a purpose.

“The entire game was built around the idea of weak-tie interdependence,” he writes, “the idea that people you don’t know well at all are in fact crucial to your survival, and important, and matter.”

Ultimately, he acknowledges that the economic underpinnings of SWG’s living society were complicated — and not something a game can just shoehorn late in development: “It’s not unusual for a company to come to me and say, ‘Can you put in crafting like SWG? Our players say it was the best ever!’ Usually, they have actually, you know, designed their game already, or even built it. And I have to tell them, ‘No. You build your game around it, not the other way around.’

[Source: Raph Koster’s blog]

Check out our past posts on Koster’s SWG restrospectives:

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Lctwo
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Lctwo

Okay…I give in. These articles finally have persuaded me to jump into the SWGemu

milosanx
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milosanx

breetoplay Rhime What you comment here is basically wurm. Eg every month or so unique creatures are spawn on all server in unknown locations, someone eventually comes across them and a event is needed to kill them, as they are so tough, approx 100 people turn up to someones deed and loot is shared between all most of the time.

The other things I wanted to mention is, pretty much everything you do you get skill for. I could make someones whole deed/castle and then they destroy it, I still got all that skill. It really promotes helping others and not just playing the game for yourself, like most MMO’s.

So, many things you have mentioned here, Bree, is Wurm online. I’m sorry I mention it so much, but I really things so many people are missing out, especiialy that so many love UO and SWG :)

milosanx
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milosanx

Lunganor Lethality Wurm Online has a player ecomony. everything is made and then sold via the forums or merchants. Fair enough people somtimes live a long distance from other players, but that is where the mail system comes in to play. Rare, supreme and fantastic items are auctioned on the forums and player will pay a lot for some of these items. Obviously, player withe the best skill can make more money than lower skilled players as they can improve items higher and high level priest can cast better enchants most of the time.

We all keep talking about SWG, even though it’s dead, but there are other titles out there that are very close to UO and SWG.

Atherne
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Atherne

These articles are so great!  The Magician pulling back the curtain to reveal the Magic behind the Magic.  I wish everything could have made it to the live game at some point.

epig
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epig

Imagine how good this game COULD have been if they managed to implement even half of the features they had to throw out before launch.

cald
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cald

melissamcdon They have been able to add new planets in, new assets and so on.. its a lot of work from what I have read but its all possible.

Check out mod the galaxy.

cald
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cald

Its crazy reading about this and how many issues they had and how many features they couldnot get in.. yet it was still one the best MMORPGs of all time, thats not just me thinking of fond memories I have spent quite a bit of time playing on the SWGemu server as well over the years and i still think its one of the best mmorpgs.

MatthewWard
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MatthewWard

breetoplay Aww ;( Obviously missed that one.. Cheers Bree

NomadMorlock
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NomadMorlock

Yes, however the NGE was a radical departure for a skill based system for a change to a class based system and the current players did not want this. 30+ professions dumbed down to a hand full of classes.
The NGE was an attempt to replicate what WOW was doing but ended up alienating the player base it had. It was a huge deal and the fact that it lasted doesn’t mean it was better than what came before.
The later years of the NGE was all about trying to return the crafting centered economy to something similar to what it was prior to the NGE but this failed as well.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

SallyBowls1 Yep, that’s what I was thinking also. I was interested in Crowfall until I read that. Totally killed any interest whatsoever. I don’t play games to deal with the sickly underbelly of society that likes to kill each-other off and trash talk eachother.
I play games to fight, craft, explore the environments, expand horizons, and to socialize (I’m not so good at the socializing bit. I’ve actually avoided joining a guild/kin/alliance/fleet/whatever you want to call them due to a couple bad experiences but I still try my best to chat up people I come across and get to know them.).
Heck, in a non MMO vein I actually played Starcraft 1 and 2 both a ton (811/209/21 record on the first, and over 1,000 games played on the other.), but almost never actually fought players. I preferred the infinite material maps with coop teamwork vs more AI than we should’ve been able to handle…

My little bouts with PvP on WoW ended with my wanting to rage at the computer…so I stopped doing it. The only PvP I’ve even enjoyed since then was GW2’s X-mas snowball event that continuously rotated us around so there was never any ‘pre-mades’/people purposely failing/and that person you beat up/who beat on you…ended up often being on your side next go-around…

I have ‘anger management’ issues in real life…and anything that is built to cause you distress, really makes me not enjoy the game…I prefer to live a serene/peaceful/Zen/type life, getting along with others where possible, and just avoiding the situations where it’s not.