Hyperspace Beacon: Memorable moments in Star Wars Galaxies, the original Star Wars MMORPG

    
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Yesterday, the game that solidified my place in the MMO space would have turned 15 years old, and MJ, Bree, and I took a trip down memory lane by hopping into one of the Star Wars Galaxies emulators. All the memories of the adventures I had came flooding back, even though my muscle memory for the combat mechanics was gone.

Since the launch of SWG in 2003, we have seen the launch of two other MMORPGs (Clone Wars Adventures and Star Wars: The Old Republic) and other multiplayer online Star Wars games, like Battlefront. If your experiences in these online games were anything like mine, you’ve made many friends that you would otherwise never had contact with and have lived through virtua; adventures you’d never dreamed of experiencing in real life.

There was a time in this column’s lifespan that I would talk about all things Star-Warsy, leading up to the launch of SWTOR. And given that we just celebrated the original Star Wars MMO’s 15th anniversary, I figured I could take a moment to reflect on one of my favorite moments in Star Wars MMO history and ask you what your favorite moment was.

Pex

To understand why my moment was so great, you will have to understand who Pex was in SWG. It seems a bit odd that I have to explain who Pex is, but it’s been about 10 years since he worked with SWG, and there are some people reading this who were still learning how to read and write when Pex did the majority of his work.

There was a time in MMORPGs when developers and community managers would play a very active role in the day-to-day activities of the players. SWG was designed to be a kind of living world, so many of the adventures would be player-generated. However, sometimes those adventures needed a little bit of a boost. That’s where Pex came in.

Pex was the handle for Jason Ryan, the Events Manager for Sony Online Entertainment. If your event needed Darth Vader to show up or special decorations or a timed-event to happen, Pex was the person you talked to. Of course, you would have to schedule a time with him and have details of what you wanted or script for him to follow, but there was little he wouldn’t do to help the SWG community find more enjoyment in the game.

My request of Pex stretched his abilities, but he was more than willing to take it on.

TR-8R

When the guild leader of my Stormtrooper guild had to leave because the actual army was restationing him, I was made the leader in his stead. I had never run a guild at that point, although I had been an officer in this guild and a couple of previous guilds. And I wanted to do something memorable for my guild once I was in charge. I thought the best thing to do was to create a story where one of our own joined the Rebellion and actively turned against us.

The guild had laid out Corellian small houses in a roughly square shape. Approximately five on one side, and three on two of the other sides with Corellian guildhalls facing each other to complete the square. Because of the collision maps on those particular houses, players could butt them right up against each other and other players couldn’t pass between them. A former guild of mine used to do that in PvP all the time. This configuration made for a great military fort, and we used it that way for a solid six months. I thought it was time for a change.

A few months prior, I had seen some of the fun things that the events team could do when they spawned NPCs and blew things up at the Battle of Restuss. I wondered why we shouldn’t do something similar.

But in order to do that, I would need Pex.

The end of Fort Vanguard

I want to say that the structure that we’d build was named Fort Vanguard, but I honestly, don’t remember. And from a roleplay perspective, it was equipped with a shield that protected it from aerial bombardment. But during an attack on the front gates of the fort, our traitor sneaked into the control room and deactivated the shield. Immediately after, there was an announcement that flashed on the screen telling everyone in the area that the shield had been compromised and that the Rebels had commenced bombardment.

My character who was supposed to be in charge of the defense lost all control of the situation. The wounded were being carried to the medical center, Imperials were taking cover in the base, and Rebels were everywhere. Then suddenly, there was a bright flash in the sky, the ground shook, and a thunderous explosion left a ringing in our ears. Then for a moment, the blaster fire stopped, and everyone turned toward the medical facility – one of the large guild halls that made up one side of the fort. But it was gone, and in its place was a pile of rubble. The entire north side of the fort was destroyed, with husks of burning buildings left in its place. My character was forced to call a retreat.

How we did it

I told my guild that I wanted to do an event where there was an attack on our base. I didn’t want to tell them too much about what was happening, but I did tell them that I was going to have Pex help out by spawning NPCs and the like. I scheduled a time with Pex ahead of time and gave him a script of what I’d like to happen. He said it was a bit unusual, but he thought he could make it happen and warned me of some of the errors that could happen. I told him that if it worked, it would be worth it.

When the battle actually happened, he spawned wave after wave of Republic NPCs for the guild to engage with. Then I sent a message to the traitor to go to his position. As soon as he replied that he was there, I sent a message to Pex that we were ready.

There were three things that Pex had to do in order for the illusion of blowing up buildings to work. He had to activate the explosion effect, move each player building to a safe location several hundred meters away, and replace them with blown-up buildings from Restuss.

And he did it expertly, and my guild was shocked and excited all at once, forging a moment in MMORPG history that I’ll never forget, in a game that lives on in classic MMO players’ memories. And emulators!

What was your favorite moment? I would love to read about your Star Wars MMO story in the comments below.

Every other week, Larry Everett jumps into his T-16 back home, rides through the hypergates of BioWare‘s Star Wars: The Old Republic, and posts his adventures in the Hyperspace Beacon. Drop him a holocom on Twitter @Shaddoe or send him a transmission at larry@massivelyop.com. Now strap yourself in, kid — we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!
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Yuge McBigly

Wow! I had some great experiences in SWG but nothing like this…

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Rhime

My wife and I got in game married at our guild city. The guild (The Star League) was quite rp heavy at the time with weekly events like racing, theatrical events and guild parties so our wedding was right up their alley. We got all dressed up, had another dancing guild (yup, that was a thing!) come and perform, had the city Mayor do the ceremony and then the guild gave us the Cadillac of landspeeders (you had to do missions to get the parts to build it!) loaded up with gifts. It was an awesome time in gaming!

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Jon Camp

I had a character in a dancing guild — he “Tempest Temptresses”– so I’m well aware that it was “a thing.” You had to be a Master Dancer or Master Musician to be in the guild. Your “other class” could be anything, but you had to be able to entertain.

I was a TKM/Dancer. Dancer actually gave some slight dodge bonuses, so it worked out pretty well. Most of our PA members were strictly entertainers though, so our “duel-a-dancer” battles were generally hilariously 1-sided. Until I’d get up there and hit my “equip armor” macro and go all ham on them….. The surprise that I could actually fight didn’t last long, though, and then since I was actually “a challenge” I tended to be the most-requested duelist.

I saw my 1st Jedi at one of these events. After “duel-a-dancer” would finish, then people in the crowd could duel also, and a Bounty Hunter was taking on all comers… until the lightsaber came out and he died quickly, then the Jedi hopped on his speeder bike and booked it out of there since he’d just become rather highly visible….

We did events at least weekly. Pex would show up a time or 2 a month too. Was always fun when he’d fly in on his Imperial Shuttle and hand out goodies.

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Zach

Ahazi, Wookiee, Thebes was his name. I started off a lowly scout and before you know it about 4 months later at the age of 11 I am sitting outside of a big rancor spawn on Endor in a humongous ranger camp. I was providing a space for my friends I had met in the game to give weary travelers rebuffs for a good upsell because of convienence and I myself always got a cut. I also remember doing alot of rolling pistol shots at the surrounding wildlife if I was getting bored. Or crafting a fun trap to throw at them. And that was just for a few hours on a Friday night. What a game that had such endless possibilities. Miss the euphoria and splendor the new experience SWG gave me. (Also unpopular opinion but the CU was actually pretty awesome to me)

Vaeris
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Vaeris

My favorite memory was being the mayor/PA leader of our player city. It was meeting all those new people that read our mission statement and decided to join us to help bring it to life. I was a huge fan of Sim City and being able to city plan, gather all the resources and watch it become a reality in game was a blast. Our main Engineer actually “practiced” our first PA hall and thank goodness we had enough components to make two, lol!

The very special moments were the ones where I was apart of personal relationships in game. I was privileged to preside over 2 in game wedding, for which I had to come up with ceremony speeches/script that I hand typed (instead of macroing) each time. One of those weddings had the two involved actually get married outside the game.

Pre NGE that game felt, to me, like being in an actual world with lots of options on how you wanted to exist. It wasn’t scripted, rather, you wrote the script. The only other game I’ve experienced that in was original Ultima Online.

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Fisty

The game is still alive and well in both pre-NGE and NGE formats. Doing better than most older MMO’s out there. There’s quite a few cool celebrations this week and next for the anniversary as well. Good time to get back in or get in for the first time.

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Archebius

Definitely replied to a comment… and it put it at the top… so editing it since it doesn’t really make sense by itself.

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lorenzo marshall

I remember embarking on my Jedi grind mastering 20 some professions waiting for the Old man to come to give me my force sensitive quest. After doing quite a bit of stuff finally kneeling down in front of the Old man and the Star Wars music playing making me force sensitive. Then the Jedi Village grind having to give up your superior skills to make room for Jedi basic skills. Bounty Hunters at every turn gunning for you. One death setting you back 4 hours of Jedi xp grind time. It was worth it, once you became Jedi Knight and owning all those Bounty Hunters. My favorite MMO of all time. I still keep in touch with my SWG guild to this day. RIP Bloodfin !!!

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Kamakuro

Ahhh the days of SWG pre NGE.

The Death Watch Bunker on Scylla. I remember using the forums to set up a group every week to do a run on the Death Watch Bunker. As a Combat Medic / Doctor my job was to keep everyone alive. Eventually the runs involved crafting either a Mandalorian helmet or a Jetpack when we had enough rare materials to make them. I can’t even begin to express how enjoyable it was crafting armor while the group handled the non-stop fighting in the room, keeping the mobs off me while I did the crafting work. It took an entire dedicated group 2-3 hours in an evening to get it all done. No voice, only chat box.

Everyone had their role to play. A few budding Jedi would help with the DPS, before hand a ranger would put down the appropriate campsite to speed the buffing process. A tailor/entertainer would help with certain types of buffs. Doctors would apply buffs as well to the group and once we were all ready we’d head on in for hours of fun.

The craziest thing was, unbeknownst to me, a raiding party had secretly formed up, knowing we did these weekly runs. After we were done with prepping for the run, and on our way to the entrance, they attacked us. Using the ‘Temporary Enemy Flag’ system and the fact we had a couple of always attackable Jedi in our party, they were able to wipe out the entire group before we got to the entrance. While devastated that they took away my night’s fun I now remember it as an amazing experience where one coordinated group was able to (Very realistically I might add) surprise attack a completely unaware group and disrupt their plans.

In the end everyone just goes their own way.. does their own thing and we just did it again the next week, but the game never ceases to amaze me in how it was able to provide such a wide open experience for so many players to make the world their own.

Thank you for the article, I ALWAYS enjoy reminiscing about the greatest MMO that ever was.

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snacky

That was a great read and brought back fond memories. Thank you.

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IronSalamander8 .

Wow. Reading this makes me sad I never played SWG. This is very cool indeed.